Ryan Lomberg scored on a breakaway with 14:04 left in overtime, leading the Florida Panthers to a 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round playoff series on Thursday night.
It was just Lomberg’s third career goal and his first in the playoffs. Prior to his goal, he was the only Panthers player without a shot on goal in the game.
The Panthers won despite Tampa’s five-goal barrage in the second period and trailing by two entering the third.
Tampa Bay leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is set for Saturday afternoon in Tampa Bay.
Florida also got goals from Sam Bennett – who made his return from a one-game suspension – as well as Radko Gudas, Alex Wennberg, Patric Hornqvist and Gustav Forsling. Jonathan Huberdeau added a game-high three assists, becoming just the fifth Panthers player to get that many in a playoff game. Panthers rookie Owen Tippett had two assists.
Panthers goalie Chris Driedger was pulled after he allowed five goals in the second period. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all nine shots he faced.
The Lightning got goals from Anthony Cirelli, Ross Colton, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevsky made 41 saves, including several that were spectacular.
The Panthers, who failed to score first in the opening two contests, took a 1-0 lead just 4:31 into the game. Huberdeau’s cross-ice pass set up Bennett, who swatted the puck in on a backhander.
Florida made it 2-0 less than three minutes later on the first career playoff goal by Gudas, whose shot from the right circle got past Point and then beat Vasilevskiy, giving Florida its first two-goal lead of the series.
But Tampa Bay scored three goals in less than nine minutes to start the second period. After a Panthers power-play goal by Wennberg tied the score 3-3, Tampa Bay scored two more, both with the man advantage.
With 18:15 left in the third, Florida cut its deficit to 5-4 as the puck bounced in off Hornqvist’s left skate.
Forsling’s goal from the slot tied the score 5-5 with 3:07 left in the third, setting up Lomberg’s overtime dramatics.
Panthers coach Joel Quenneville made a pair of big decisions prior to the game, benching defenceman Keith Yandle and Bobrovsky.
It was the first time Yandle has missed a game since 2009. However, it didn’t break his streak of consecutive games played in the regular season, which is 42 games short of tying the NHL record.
While Yandle has been turnover prone, Bobrovsky sat for the start of the second straight game after allowing five goals in the opener.