Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2: Florida Panthers 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 2 (OT)

Carter Verhaeghe scored 2:59 into overtime and the Florida Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Tuesday at Amerant Bank Arena to go up 2-0 in their Stanley Cup Playoffs opening-round series.

Sam Bennett and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the first period for Florida, which got 21 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky.

Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa in the first 5:46 minutes of the second period to tie the game at 2-2 and neither team found the back of the net for the ensuing 34:14 to send the game to overtime with Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy exchanging great save after great save for the second half of regulation.

The series now shifts to Tampa, with Games 3 and 4 being played at Amalie Arena on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.).

Regulation isn’t enough

For the first time in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a game is going to overtime.

And it just so happens to be the game in Sunrise.

Neither the Panthers nor the Lightning found the back of the net in the third period, with just 12 total shots on goal in the frame.

The next goal wins.

A reminder: In the playoffs, overtime is 5-on-5 play, not the 3-on-3 format used in the regular season. Also, there are no shootouts. The overtime periods will continue to roll until a team scores a goal.

Another reminder: Florida went undefeated in overtime during the playoffs last season.

Big penalty kill to start the third

The Panthers found themselves playing down a man for an extended period early in the third period when Eetu Luostarinen was called for a double-minor high sticking penalty.

But Florida managed to kill off the four-minute penalty even with one of its top penalty-killing forwards.

Sam Bennett update

Florida second-line center Sam Bennett has not taken a shift or been on the bench since the opening five minutes of the second period.

In his absence, Anton Lundell has moved up to the second line with Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk. Kevin Stenlund moved up to the third line to center Eetu Luostarinen and Evan Rodrigues.

UPDATE: The Panthers announced midway through the third period Bennett will not return to the game due to an upper-body injury.

Second intermission thoughts

Well, this is going to be another interesting finish.

The Panthers and Lightning are tied 2-2 with 20 minutes left in regulation.

There’s been a lot more action this time around compared to Game 1, with 44 total shots on goal through the first 40 minutes (26 for Florida, 18 for Tampa Bay).

And as expected, both goaltenders are doing everything in their power to keep their teams in the game. It very well might be which goaltender blinks first that determines who wins this one.

Playoff Bob in full force

With about six minutes left in the middle frame and the game tied 2-2, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos slid the puck past Matthew Tkachuk to defenseman Matt Dumba.

Bobrovsky was completely out of position with his back to Dumba as the Lightning defenseman fired a shot on net.

Bobrovsky ranged across the crease and with his back facing outward made a glove save on Dumba’s shot to keep the game tied.

The sellout crowd at Amerant Bank Arena then erupted into “Bob-by” chants.

Read the full story here.

Tampa ties it on the power play

The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos tied the game at 2-2 with a slap shot from the left circle on the power play that got past Sergei Bobrovsky 5:46 into the second period.

Tampa Bay’s opportunity for the man advantage came when Carter Verhaeghe was called for goaltender interference.

Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov got the assists.

Lightning gets one back early in second

Tampa Bay cut Florida’s lead in half in the opening minute of the second period when Brayden Point deflected an Anthony Duclair shot past Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

The score: Florida 2, Tampa Bay 1 with 19:12 left in the middle period.

First intermission thoughts

In short, the Panthers dominated the opening period. In addition to scoring both goals and putting up 12 shots, Florida held Tampa Bay to just three shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes. This comes after the Panthers didn’t allow a shot on goal in the opening 15:55 of Game 1 and limited Tampa Bay to just 19 shots overall in the first game.

Meanwhile, the Panthers seem to have found their strategy for getting past Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. They are either ripping off shots at his pads that will generate rebounds or playing with someone up close for a chance to tip the puck past Vasilevskiy.

According to the advanced hockey statistics website Natural Stat Trick, Florida had a 23-9 edge in shot attempts, 11-2 edge in scoring chances and 9-1 edge in high-danger chances in the first period.

And because it needs to be brought up: The hit total in the first period was 43 (21 for Florida, 22 for Tampa Bay).

Florida doubles its lead on the power play

Vladimir Tarasenko has officially made his presence known on the scoresheet in the playoffs.

Tarasenko, acquired by the Panthers at the trade deadline to bolster their forward depth, scored with four seconds left on a power play late in the first period to put Florida up 2-0 with 4:18 left in the opening period.

Sam Bennett and Oliver Ekman-Larsson got the assists. Bennett has been involved in both Florida goals so far in Game 2.

Panthers strike first again

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on a Sam Bennett backhanded shot on a rebound 6:16 into regulation with Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy out of position.

The Lightning challenged for goaltender interference but the call was upheld.

Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe got the assists on Bennett’s goal.

Florida also took a 1-0 lead in Game 1, with Sam Reinhart scoring the opening goal in the opening game.

Physicality still present

After the Panthers and Lightning combined for 116 hits in Game 1, both teams kept their physical edge in the early going of Game 2.

Florida and Tampa Bay combined for 18 hits — 12 by the Panthers, six by the Lightning — in the first five minutes before the first shot on goal was logged.

A lineup change

Panthers coach Paul Maurice said after morning skate that forward Steven Lorentz will draw into the lineup, playing on the fourth line with center Kevin Stenlund and winger Nick Cousins.

Ryan Lomberg will not play Tuesday due to illness.

Lorentz began the season as a regular on the Panthers’ fourth line before increased forward depth -- Jonah Gadjovich getting healthy, plus the additions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo at the trade deadline -- pushed Lorentz into being a healthy scratch on a regular basis following the All-Star Break.

Lorentz showed over the final few weeks of the regular season that he can be called upon should the situation arise.

Tuesday will be one of those nights.

“He had a long stretch where he didn’t play,” Maurice said. “For him to do what he did to stay in the fight, come to practice hard, work hard every day, good on him. He made the decision to give himself another chance.”

Florida’s forward lines should look like this entering Game 2 against the Lightning:

Vladimir Tarasenko-Aleksander Barkov-Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe-Sam Bennett-Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen-Anton Lundell-Evan Rodrigues

Steven Lorentz-Kevin Stenlund-Nick Cousins

Pregame reading

Need to catch up ahead of Game 2? Here’s everything the Miami Herald published over the past couple days.

Dmitry Kulikov is rarely the star on the ice for the Panthers, but what he brings to the team is appreciated inside the dressing room.

The foundation to the Panthers’ success was on display in Game 1 win vs Lightning. The goal now: Sustain it.

Panthers embrace physicality, defense-oriented game in series-opening win vs Lightning

Carter Verhaeghe’s offense, Matthew Tkachuk’s defense and more notable stats from Game 1