Steven Stamkos scored a pair of goals & Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the visiting Florida Panthers 5-1 on Sunday afternoon to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in their best-of-seven series.
Corey Perry, Erik Cernak & Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay.
The Lightning opened up the scoring at 13:21 of the 1st period, and it was THAT guy again.
Just 15 seconds after the game's first power play expired, Perry deflected a point shot from Ryan McDonagh past Florida netminder Sergei Bobrovsky to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
Florida responded with the equalizer at 16:07, surprisingly on the man-advantage.
After a cross-checking call on Brandon Hagel - who was a game-time decision with a lower-body injury - Sam Reinhart snapped an 0-for-25 scoreless streak on the power play with a goal to tie the score at one apiece.
The hit by Hagel on Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen was a rough one, drawing a review for a possible major penalty. After a short replay, the officials deemed it to just be two minutes, but the visitors made Hagel & the Lightning pay.
The score remained tied heading into the first intermission, but a cross-checking penalty by Patric Hornqvist on Erik Cernak at the 20:00 mark gave the Bolts a power play chance to start the 2nd period.
Tampa Bay didn't take advantage in those two minutes, but the man they call "Drago" did soon thereafter.
Cernak wristed a shot from the left circle over the glove of Bobrovsky to put the Lightning up 2-1 at 2:54.
Florida had a golden opportunity to tie the game after a Victor Hedman interference penalty at 6:37 -- especially after Nick Paul broke his stick on the initial faceoff -- but Vasilevskiy and the penalty killers rose to the challenge to keep the Panthers off the board.
And then the back breaker.
Fresh off the rush, Kucherov found Stamkos in his office and the captain rifled a one-timer to put the Lightning up by two at 10:23 of the 2nd.
The Lightning really locked down the rest of the way and the Panthers were unable to find the back of the net the rest of the way.
Kucherov -- who had three assists -- and Stamkos added empty-net goals to seal the deal for Tampa Bay.
Bobrovsky made 31 saves in defeat for Florida.
It's A Family Affair : Before the game, the ThunderKid was Ryan McDonagh's 5 year old daughter Falan. What a cool moment for the McDonagh family! (VIDEO/PHOTO BELOW)
Shaq Attack : Buccaneers OLB Shaquil Barrett fired off the Tesla coils before Game 3 with our guy Greg Wolf. (VIDEO BELOW)
- Tampa Bay - Perry - (McDonagh, Kucherov) - 13:21
- Florida - PPG - Reinhart - (Huberdeau, Barkov) - 16:07
- Tampa Bay - Cernak - (Colton, Palat) - 2:54
- Tampa Bay - Stamkos - (Kucherov, Hedman) - 10:23
- Tampa Bay - ENG - Kucherov - (Paul) - 16:06
- Tampa Bay - ENG - Stamkos - (Kucherov, Sergachev) - 17:51
- Florida - Bennett - (Holding) - 11:06
- Tampa Bay - Hagel - (Cross Checking) - 15:29
- Florida - Hornqvist - (Cross Checking) - 20:00
- Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Interference) - 6:37
- Tampa Bay - TEAM - (Too Many Men) - 17:56
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Monday night as they welcome the Florida Panthers back to Amalie Arena for Game 4 of their best-of-seven second round matchup. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm with the pregame show starting at 6:00pm on NewsRadio WFLA & Lightning Power Play on the iHeartRadio app.
PHOTO : Getty Images