NHL Playoffs: Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 3 Recap | 4/25/2024

Montour celebrates his goal in the second period. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Game 3 on the road? That’s no problem for the Florida Panthers, who didn’t miss a beat Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Cats have been great on the road this season winning a franchise-best 26 games in enemy arenas. Even with two players out of the lineup, Bennett and Lomberg, the team looked every bit as strong as Game 1 and Game 2. Once again, the PK came up big for the Panthers as they didn’t get a single power play opportunity themselves and had to kill off four Lightning power plays. While the forward lines were mixed up with Bennett out, the depth of the team was still strong, with the fourth line having a particularly good night. Lundell also had a strong game centering the second line with Tkachuk and Verhaeghe. The Panthers take a 3-0 series lead with the chance to sweep on Saturday.

Penalty Kill Held Strong:

Florida’s dominating the special teams game in this series. They’ve converted on two power plays in two games and stifled the Lightning power play in game three. Overall, on the series, the Panthers have held the Tampa power play to 2/12. Game three’s penalty kill was particularly impressive because Forsling got called for two penalties and wasn’t on the ice as part of the PK unit. Despite having to kill off nearly three full penalties in the first period, Florida still walked away with a 1-0 lead after twenty minutes. It looked like the Lighting had cashed in on the late first-period power play, but an offsides coach’s challenge led to a video review that showed a clear offside and an easy call reversal. The Panthers had to kill off another late second-period penalty that carried over into the third, but the defense held strong and boxed the Lightning out. The three goals for Tampa came from the slot area; they came through traffic, but they were the only ones that the Cats allowed from that area of the ice.

Adjusted Lines Working Well:

With Sam Bennett out, that left a hole in the second line and was cause for line shuffling. Lundell moved up to center vacancy, Stenlund centered the third line, and Lorentz came in to center the fourth line. Lundell made his presence known on the second line by making a fantastic pass from behind the goal to set up Tkachuk, who then scored to break the ice. HC Paul Maurice described Lundell’s game as Barkov-like in his post-game interview and that he’s an intelligent player and does things that the coaches don’t have to coach him on. Stenlund looked solid on the third line with Luostarinen and Rodrigues, and while they were the only line without a goal, they still did great work defensively to frustrate the Lightning. Naturally, the team is missing Bennett and Lomberg, but it gives a lot of confidence in the team’s depth that they can look the same even when they’re out.

Fourth Line Steals The Show:

By far the highlight of Game 3 for the Panthers was the fourth line of Cousins-Lorentz-Okposo. The fourth line has rotated through about five or six guys during the season but this combination came up huge for Florida Thursday night. They pressured when they were in the offensive zone, and that pressure led to two separate goals, a massive one from Montour to get the lead and a career-first Playoff goal for Lorentz that was the game-winner. Lomberg was out with illness this game but this line didn’t look like it was missing anyone. I’ll admit Okposo didn’t win me over a whole lot during the regular season after the Panthers got him at the trade deadline, but Thursday night, he did. He played great, took a few shots toward the net, and helped screen Vasilevskiy. Okposo and his linemates worked hard, and the team reaped the benefits. Lorentz made a great shot from the slot that hit the goal post and bounced into the back of the net to give Florida the 4-2 lead. He’s a great story of working hard and then getting rewarded, even though that path isn’t easy and requires patience. If Bob was the talk of Game 2, then the fourth line was the talk of Game 3. Florida looks to take the series sweep in Tampa on Saturday at 5 pm EST/4 pm CT.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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