It was enterprise as ordinary for Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman Sunday at Amalie Enviornment.
The enterprise of championship-level hockey, that’s.
As they’ve performed repeatedly over the previous three postseasons, the Lightning’s two finest defensemen set an instance each on and off the ice in Recreation 3, main Tampa Bay to inside one win of returning to the Jap Convention Closing.
The 2 most revered voices on the staff’s blueline blocked pictures, took hits to make performs, received pucks out of their zone and led breakouts as Tampa Bay restricted one of many league’s prime offensive groups to a single aim for a fourth straight sport and third within the collection.
Hedman had a team-high 4 blocked pictures, 4 pictures on aim, an help, a success and a takeaway in 21:59. McDonagh spent much more time on the ice, accumulating three blocks, two hits, an help, a takeaway, a shot on aim and a plus-four ranking in a team-high 23:21.
They had been at their finest within the pivotal second interval, when the Panthers made their largest surge of the sport however fell behind by two targets.
Hedman blocked 4 pictures, protruding his proper knee to disclaim a Sam Bennett try from above the left circle that appeared headed for the again of the web simply over two minutes into the interval. Tampa Bay scored lower than a minute later to go forward 2-1 on an Erik Cernak aim.
With Hedman within the field for interference simply over three minutes after the Cernak aim, McDonagh cleared the puck out of the crease after which received a stick in entrance of a Jonathan Huberdeau probability from in shut. Lower than two minutes after that, Steven Stamkos scored off the push to increase the Lightning result in 3-1.
As a substitute of a tie sport, it was a two-goal Tampa Bay lead, one Hedman helped protect by blocking an Anthony Duclair shot from the suitable circle because the interval — and one other Panthers energy play — got here to an finish.
Their dedication rubbed off on their youthful counterparts. Cernak had three blocks and 4 hits, along with his aim. Cal Foote blocked a shot and made some good breakout passes. Mikhail Sergachev had an help, three hits and a block. Jan Rutta cleared one other puck out of the crease and, sure, blocked a shot.
It’s not at all times the pucks you set within the opposing internet. Typically, it’s those you retain out of your individual.
Right here is how we graded the remainder of the Lightning’s efficiency of their 5-1 win in Recreation 3:
Lightning proper wing Nikita Kucherov (86), left, celebrates his empty-net aim together with middle Steven Stamkos (91) and left wing Nick Paul (20) in the course of the third interval.
If you’d like a job performed proper, typically you’ve received to do it your self. With the Lightning up 3-1 late within the third interval and an empty internet in entrance of him, Nikita Kucherov handed to Nick Paul, whose shot was blocked by Aleksander Barkov.
Comply with all of the motion on and off the ice
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When Kucherov received the puck again, he went straight to the web himself. Lower than two minutes later, he arrange Stamkos for an additional empty-net aim, a part of a four-point afternoon for Kucherov, together with three assists.
For all of his chic talent, Kucherov is a set-up artist first and a scorer second, his passes to Corey Perry in Recreation 1 and Ross Colton on the finish of Recreation 2 his items de resistance. However he’s additionally a risk to attain (with 4 targets this postseason) with the puck on his stick, making it virtually inconceivable for defenders to discern his intentions.
Possibly it doesn’t matter. Whether or not he’s passing or capturing, the puck often winds up at the back of the web.
Among the many finest — ever
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy pumps his fist as he’s named the No. 1 star of the sport Sunday.
It’s taken the remainder of the world far too lengthy to acknowledge it, however Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is in a category of his personal — and has been for the previous 5 seasons.
He offers the Lightning an insurmountable benefit in each postseason collection on the sport’s most vital place and raises his sport because the stakes get larger.
Vasilevskiy’s capacity to play the puck and gradual the forecheck is nearly as vital as his knack for preserving it out of the web, and it’s a giant motive Tampa Bay is on a five-game postseason win streak.
With 34 saves on 35 pictures Sunday, he now has stopped 102 of 105 within the collection and 132 of 136 going again to Recreation 7 of the Maple Leafs collection.
By no means thoughts Vasilevskiy’s contemporaries. With two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Vezina and 4 All-Star Recreation appearances already to his credit score, it’s time to begin contemplating him among the many all-time greats at his place.
Main 1-0, the Lightning lit a fireplace beneath the Panthers when Brandon Hagel cross-checked an off-balance Eetu Luostarinen from behind late within the first interval, sending him laborious into the boards.
Officers first assessed a five-minute main penalty earlier than lowering it to a two-minute minor after a replay assessment.
It didn’t matter, as Florida rapidly took benefit of the man-advantage alternative to interrupt their 0-for-25 power-play drought. Huberdeau confirmed nice persistence with the puck, drawing two defenders to him in the suitable circle, then arrange Sam Reinhart for a one-timer from under the hashmarks.
Luostarinen returned close to the top of the interval, but it surely didn’t change the truth that the play by Hagel was each harmful and pointless.
Grade: C, for careless
The 2022 Stanley Cup playoff second-round collection between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers shifts to Tampa for Recreation 3 this afternoon. Tampa Bay is 9-0 all-time in a best-of-seven playoff collection when proudly owning a 2-0 lead.
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