NHL Playoffs: Bolts beat Panthers late, Blues handle Avs first loss

nhl playoffs
May 17, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Ross Colton (79) reacts after scoring during the third period against the Florida Panthers in game one of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Playoffs continue to roll on with incredible action as the Tampa Bay Lightning are making a strong case for a Three-Peat.

Ross Colton scored the 2021 Stanley Cup winning goal for the Bolts in his rookie season, so he knows what it’s like to play the role of hero. Last night, with just a few ticks on the clock, he converted a gorgeous set up by Nikita Kucherov to give Tampa a 2-0 series lead over the Florida Panthers.

In Colorado, the Avalanche experienced their first loss of the postseason in decisive fashion. The St. Louis Blues put together a full 60 minute effort to even their best-of-seven series. Jordan Binnington stopped 30 shots to improve his playoff stats to 4-1, with a 1.75 GAA and a .948 SV%.

Tonight’s action has the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers both on the road and looking to avoid going down 2-0 in their respective series.

NHL Playoffs: Lightning 2 vs Panthers 1

Ross Colton’s goal with 3.8 seconds left gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday in Sunrise, Fla., and a 2-0 edge in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

With overtime looming, Colton headed to the net just as Nikita Kucherov sent a no-look backhand pass from the end boards. Colton, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal last year, buried a high shot for his fifth goal of the 2022 playoffs.

“When you’re on the ice with ‘Kuch,’ you’ve got to be ready for anything, and once I saw the puck behind the net, I just went to the front of the net,” Colton said. “He’s got eyes in the back of his head, as you can see, because I didn’t even know that he knew I was there. He gift-wrapped it for me. Luckily it just squeaked under the bar there, but unbelievable play by him.”

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Corey Perry also scored for the two-time defending champion Lightning, who will look to claim a stranglehold on the Battle of Florida when they host Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday — the first of two home games on consecutive days.

Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves amid an outstanding goalie battle.

Eetu Luostarinen scored for the Panthers, who finished atop the league in the regular season but are now in serious trouble in their attempt to unseat their state rivals. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots.

NHL Playoffs: Blues 4 vs Avalanche 1

NHL Playoffs
May 19, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) reacts with center Ryan O’Reilly (90) after the game against the Colorado Avalanche in game two of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

David Perron scored two goals, Jordan Kyrou and Brandon Saad also scored and the St. Louis Blues beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night in Denver.

Jordan Binnington stopped 30 shots and Pavel Buchnevich had two assists for St. Louis, which evened the best-of-seven series at one win apiece.

Gabriel Landeskog scored and Darcy Kuemper had 28 saves for the Avalanche, who lost for the first time in the playoffs and had their eight-game postseason winning streak against the Blues snapped.

“We did a good job, and we forechecked hard tonight,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “We put pucks to good areas and were on it. We had numbers on it all night and made them play in their own end and did a good job.”

Game 3 is Saturday night in St. Louis.

-Field Level Media contributed to this article