The Tampa Bay Lightning fell into a 3-0 hole in Round One of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday night at AMALIE Arena. Tampa Bay went 0-for-4 on the power play and gave up the first goal of the game for the third-consecutive contest in the defeat.

The Bolts surrendered the game-opening goal when Matthew Tkachuk opened the scoring at the 10:39 mark of the first period to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead. Creeping in from the right circle, Tkachuk positioned himself in front of the net and took a pass from Aleksander Barkov before beating Andrei Vasilevskiy for his second goal of the playoffs.

Going into the second period trailing 1-0, Steven Stamkos scored his third goal in as many games just 44 seconds into the frame to even the score at 1-1. After a heavy one-timer from Nikita Kucherov buzzed past Sergei Bobrovsky, Victor Hedman gained possession on the left boards and threw a shot towards the net, where Stamkos won his battle against Oliver Ekman-Larsson and redirected the puck over the goal line to tie the contest and ignite the crowd at AMALIE Arena.

With the building buzzing and the ice tilting in Tampa Bay’s favor, Tyler Motte found the back of the net only 2:12 after the Stamkos goal to give the Lightning its first lead of the series. Entering the offensive zone, Tanner Jeannot dumped the puck into the corner and barreled through a check of Steven Lorentz before making his way to the front of the net.

Gaining possession in the corner, Motte wheeled around the right circle and fired a perfect shot through the screen of Jeannot and into the top right corner to make it a 2-1 game with his first goal of the postseason.

The Bolts continued to surge forward and apply relentless pressure as the second period rolled on. Bobrovsky made a fantastic stop on Emil Lilleberg to keep it a one-goal game before Darren Raddysh nearly made it 3-1 with a shot that rang off the left post.

Failing to capitalize on those opportunities would come back to bite the Lightning when Sam Reinhart tied the game at the 9:58 mark of the middle frame. Taking a pass from Vladimir Tarasenko in the offensive zone, Reinhart skated downhill to the top of the right circle and fired a shot around a sprawling Lilleberg and past Vasilevskiy to make it a 2-2 game.

Florida regained the lead 6:32 later off the stick of Brandon Montour, who netted his first goal of the postseason to make it a 3-2 game heading into the third period. After Lorentz found Montour at the point, the defenseman wound up and hammered a slap shot through traffic and into the top left corner with Kyle Okposo recording the secondary assist.

Entering the third period needing to score the next goal, the Bolts continued to push forward but were burnt by Lorentz, who gave the Panthers a 4-2 lead with 10:19 remaining in regulation.

Following a dump into the offensive zone by Gustav Forsling, Jeannot and Nick Cousins battled for possession along the wall before the puck made its way to the slot, where Lorentz was waiting to fire home his first goal of the postseason and give Florida a multi-goal lead.

Tampa Bay battled until the final horn and got back within one when Nick Paul scored his first goal of the playoffs with 5:10 remaining in the third period. Taking a drop pass near the top of the right circle, Anthony Duclair put the puck right on the tape of Paul, who rifled a shot over the glove of Bobrovsky to make it a 4-3 game.

But the Lightning were unable to find the equalizer before Tkachuk sealed the win for the Panthers, scoring an empty-net goal at the 19:28 mark of the third to put Tampa Bay in a 3-0 hole in the series.

Bolts by the Numbers

- Steven Stamkos scored his third goal of the series and became the third player in Lightning franchise history to record a three-game goal streak from the start of a postseason, joining Vincent Lecavalier (4 GP in 2007) and Alex Killorn (3 GP in 2018).

- Victor Hedman picked up his third assist and point of the playoffs (0-3—3). Hedman’s three helpers are tied for the third-most among all NHL defensemen in this year’s playoffs. Hedman is tied with Nikita Kucherov (0-3—3) for the Lightning team lead in assists and the second-most points (most: Steven Stamkos, 3-1—4).

- Nikita Kucherov extended his point streak to three games with his third assist of the series. Kucherov has now recorded 147 points this season (regular season and playoffs combined), passing Leon Draisaitl (65-81—146 in 2022-23) for the third-most points in a season by an active player. Kucherov has now recorded 110 career playoff assists (53-110—63), the 20th-most among all skaters in NHL history.

- Tyler Motte logged his first point of the postseason when he scored a goal to give the Lightning its first lead of the postseason.

- Tanner Jeannot picked up the lone assist on Motte's goal for his first point of the playoffs.

- Nick Paul scored his first goal of the postseason and has scored seven playoff goals since joining the Lightning in 2022 (7-4—11), the fifth-most among all Tampa Bay skaters over that span.

- Anthony Duclair recorded his second assist and point of the playoffs (0-2—2) when he recorded the primary helper on Paul's goal.

- Erik Cernak recorded his first point of the playoffs with the secondary assist on the Paul goal.

Bolts Quotes

- Tyler Motte: “There's no more games if you lose the next one. Like I said, our back's against the wall. You find out who you are. You come out swinging. Put your best foot forward and you just keep pushing. It's a 60-minute game but you've got to chop it up into shifts and periods and just continue to go. Again, you saw when we got to our game and the emotion we played with. If we can get to that, we believe in this group. Chop it up and continue to create your own momentum. Ride the waves a little bit and we've got to win one.”

- Jon Cooper on the power play: “There's things we're going to have to do. We've got a couple power-play goals in the series. But if you're going to give us eight minutes, we've got to do something with it. And we didn't in a one-goal game.”

- Steven Stamkos on the momentum Tampa Bay had over the first 10 minutes of the second period: “It's ebbs and flows of a game. I thought we played probably the best 10 minutes of the series right there. We were controlling the play. Physically, I thought we were on top of it. We had the lead finally. Then it's just little mistakes that are costing us and that's the difference at this time of the year. It's two teams that have basically played three one-goal games and they've got the better. It's not all about us. They're doing a lot of good things. That's a very, very good hockey team over there that plays the style that you need to play to win at this time of the year. There's no question about that. But we still believe that we can go out and win the next game. That's just got to be the focus is just on one game.”

Krenner’s Three Stars

1. Brandon Montour

2. Steven Stamkos

3. Sam Reinhart

Lightning Look Ahead

- Game 4 – Saturday, April 27 vs. Florida Panthers, 5 p.m. ET, AMALIE Arena