Lightning Seek First Win Against Panthers in Game 3 of NHL Playoff Series

The Tampa Bay Lightning aim to bounce back against the Florida Panthers in Game 3 after losing the first two games in overtime. The Panthers face a setback with the injury of center Sam Bennett, but remain optimistic about their Stanley Cup aspirations.

Salman Khan
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Lightning Seek First Win Against Panthers in Game 3 of NHL Playoff Series

Lightning Seek First Win Against Panthers in Game 3 of NHL Playoff Series

The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to earn their first win against the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of their NHL playoff series on Thursday in Tampa. The Panthers lead the series 2-0 after winning the first two games in overtime, including a 3-2 victory in Game 2.

In Game 2, the Lightning had a four-minute power play opportunity in the third period but were unable to capitalize. Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made a key save to deny the Lightning a go-ahead goal. "It was an incredible save," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said of Bobrovsky's stop. "Sometimes you have to acknowledge skill."

The Panthers suffered a significant setback in Game 2 as their second-line center Sam Bennett left with an apparent hand injury after taking a shot to his left hand. Head coach Paul Maurice announced that Bennett will be out for at least the next three games of the series. Losing Bennett, who centers Matthew Tkachuk's line, is a challenging obstacle for Florida's center depth behind Aleksander Barkov.

Despite the 2-0 series deficit, the Lightning remain optimistic about their chances. They have come back from 2-0 deficits to win a series twice before, in 2003 against the Washington Capitals and in 2022 against the New York Rangers. "We've been in this situation before," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Let's see if we've still got a little magic left in us."

Why this matters: The outcome of this series has significant implications for both teams' Stanley Cup aspirations. The Lightning are seeking their fourth consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final, while the Panthers are looking to win their first championship in franchise history.

As the series shifts to Tampa for Games 3 and 4, the Lightning will have the advantage of home ice and the last change. They will need their top players, including Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, to step up and lead the way if they hope to get back in the series. The Panthers, meanwhile, will look to continue their strong play at 5-on-5 and rely on their depth to offset the loss of Bennett.

Key Takeaways

  • Panthers lead Lightning 2-0 in NHL playoff series after 2 OT wins.
  • Lightning failed to capitalize on 4-min power play in Game 2, Bobrovsky made key save.
  • Panthers lose 2nd-line center Sam Bennett to hand injury, out for at least 3 games.
  • Lightning have overcome 2-0 deficits before, in 2003 and 2022.
  • Series has high stakes, with Lightning seeking 4th straight Cup Final, Panthers chasing 1st title.