Just like Game One, Game Two was a close contest that came down to one extra play made by the winning team. Once again, that extra play was made by the Florida Panthers, who now lead the best-of-seven series, 2-0.

Unlike Game One, however, Game Two featured plenty of scoring chances for both teams. That was especially true during a wide-open second period, a frame in which the goaltenders stole the show. Sergei Bobrovsky and Andrei Vasilevskiy traded remarkable saves during the middle stanza. Their brilliant work kept the game tied at two — it remained tied until Carter Verhaeghe’s overtime winner.

The Lightning generated most of their Game Two scoring chances during that second period. The first period looked like much of Game One, in which they struggled to create good looks. They only mustered three shots on net and nine total shot attempts. The Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead during the opening frame. They converted on a Sam Bennett backhander at 6:16. On the play, Matthew Tkachuk bumped Andrei Vasilevskiy in the crease, and Vasilevskiy was down on the ice when Bennett scored. The Lightning challenged the play for goalie interference, but the goal was allowed to stand when the officials ruled that Brandon Hagel pushed Tkachuk into Vasilevskiy. Later in the period, Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power-play goal. An Oliver Ekman-Larsson point shot led to a goalmouth scramble, and Bennett passed the puck to Tarasenko at the bottom of the right circle. Taransenko had an open net, and he didn’t miss.

The Lightning pushed back at the start of the second period. In the opening minute, Brayden Point deflected in Anthony Duclair’s right-circle shot. Following a goalie interference penalty on Verhaeghe at 5:14, Steven Stamkos ripped a left-circle one-timer into the top of the net. The Stamkos goal at 5:46 tied the game at two.

Then came the goaltending display. The teams combined to post 29 shots in the second period. Many were Grade-A opportunities. Bobrovsky made the save of the playoffs so far. Matt Dumba appeared to have an open net, but Bobrovsky swung out his left arm and blocked Dumba’s shot. Bobrovsky also recorded a breakaway save on Anthony Cirelli. Vasilevskiy registered back-to-back point-blank saves on Sam Reinhart and Aleksander Barkov. He also denied a one-timer from Tkachuk that appeared to be heading for an open net. 

The scoring chances dried up in the third period, as both teams battened the hatches defensively. There were a total of just 12 total shots on net in the third. One of those came from Duclair, who had a partial breakaway in the closing minute. But Bobrovsky stopped the attempt, preserving the tie.

Overtime didn’t last long. The Lightning committed a couple of icing infractions. The second of those led to a Barkov faceoff win and two dangerous Reinhart shots. Vasilevskiy stopped both. On the ensuing d-zone faceoff, Stamkos won the draw from Anton Lundell. The Lightning cleared the zone twice but couldn’t move it past the red line. The Panthers worked it back in. After the second of those dump-ins, they made the play that won them the game. Lundell set up Verhaeghe at the bottom of the left circle. Verhaeghe swerved through the low slot, outwaited Vasilevskiy, and lifted a backhander into the top of the net. The Lightning’s inability to work the puck in deep to the Florida end after winning the defensive-zone faceoff proved to be very costly. 

The Lightning had their chances to win the game. Bobrovsky denied some of their best scoring looks. They also received a four-minute power-play early in the third. But they couldn’t convert. 

A critical Game Three takes place on Thursday at Amalie Arena.

Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:

  • Carter Verhaeghe — Panthers. GWG.
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy — Lightning. 34 saves.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky — Panthers. 21 saves.