It’s like deja vu all over again. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves as he shut out the Florida Panthers in Game Six, much like he did to the Dallas Stars in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final last season. Pat Maroon, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point scored for the Bolts while Spencer Knight was in the net. Alex Killorn sealed it with an empty net goal with under two minutes to go in the game.
Barclay Goodrow returned to the line-up for the first time in the postseason and was quickly reunited with Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman. Ross Colton went to the fourth line while Mathieu Joseph was scratched.
For the second time in as many games, the Lighting scored on their first real chance of the game. It wasn’t a pretty 2-on-1, just a hardworking goal. First Tyler Johnson beat an icing, then Maroon went to the front of the net and batted it at Knight, then past Knight.
Pat Maroon (Tyler Johnson, Mikhail Sergachev)
Point had a chance a few minutes later as Kucherov sent him in alone, but he scuffed the shot and Knight easily stopped the attempt. The Bolts did a much better job of getting some traffic in front of him and testing him than they did in Game Five, but the young goaltender was up to the challenge as he stopped everything else they threw at him.
The first period had a strong resemblance to Game Five as the Lightning played well at 5v5, defended well, but couldn’t find that second goal. A late hooking penalty by Brandon Montour was the only penalty of the period as both teams played physically, but within the realm of normality.
The Lightning did not score on their power play in the first or the second period. Neither did the Panthers when they went on the power play a few minutes into the period. Patric Hornqvist made a nice move to cut into the crease, but Vasy made the save, as well as the follow-up attempt (without his stick). Mikhail Sergachev tied up a Panther in the sequence that helped prevent a goal as well.
It was a grind during the middle portion of the period as both teams blunted each other’s attack in the neutral zone. Most shots, if they were even attempted, were blocked aside before they reached the net, but a lot of the play was well away from the net.
A headlock by Sam Bennett with just over seven minutes to play in the period was called for roughing, and sent the Bolts back on the power play. The special team unit has cooled a bit since the hot start in the first two games, but any power play with Steven Stamkos is dangerous. Welcome to the Stammer One-Timer Club, Spencer Knight.
Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Brayden Point) Power Play
With a two-goal lead, the Lightning had a chance to breathe, and Florida had to start taking some chances in order to get back into the game. Of course, since nothing comes easy, the Lightning almost immediately took a penalty. They killed it off and took the Panthers into the final break with a 2-0 lead.
The game plan for the Lightning was simple in the third period. Clear the puck out of their zone, stay out of the penalty box, and counter-attack if Florida gave them space. They struggled a bit with the first part early in the period as the Panthers had a pretty good rally at the start. The puck didn’t go in the net, though, and the Lightning were able to push it down the ice and force Florida to attack from 200 feet away.
Florida kept pushing, but the Lightning didn’t break. With about 5 1⁄2 minutes to go, Vasy made a key save on MacKenzie Weegar. Cernak flipped the puck out and Kucherov brought it into the zone. He waited for help and hit Point who was streaking into the zone. He put a move on Weegar, skated to the front of the crease and tucked it just inside the post and Knight’s left skate to give the Bolts the 3-0 lead.
Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Erik Cernak)
Elite talent can only be suppressed for so long. With their season on the line, the Panthers pulled Knight with over four minutes to go in the period. They made it halfway through the remaining time before Alex Killorn buried it into the empty net. It was all over except for one last slashing penalty from Frank Vatrano, because why not?
Alex Killorn (Erik Cernak, Steven Stamkos) Empty Net
It didn’t matter and the Bolts closed out the game and the series. They move on to face the winner of the Nashville/Carolina series.