Tampa Bay Lightning looking good for a three-peat

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to put a chokehold on their best-of-seven series on Sunday afternoon against the Florida Panthers.

After beating them in Sunrise, Fla twice, they have an incredible opportunity as the scene shifts to Amalie Arena in Tampa for Games 3 and 4.

“We’re two games closer to where we want to be, but we’re not there yet,” Bolts coach Jon Cooper said. “I told you this last time in the last series, and I’m going to tell you again, (Thursday) night was just one game. We’re here to win a series.”

Familiar territory for the Lightning

The Florida Panthers have to be scratching their heads. This is the team that won the Presidents’ Trophy with 122 points, 12 points better than the Lightning. Yet here they are.

It’s deja vu all over again for the Panthers, who were in this position last year against the same Lightning team. Well not exactly the same, but Tampa management knows how to replace key pieces lost better than any team in the NHL.

The Panthers were able to win Game 3 but eventually fell in 6 games as Tampa rolled to their second consecutive Stanley Cup

“Guys are stepping up, whether it’s an amazing penalty kill at the end, blocked shots, taking a hit to make a play,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “Guys are willing to do that and it’s a great trait to have as a team.”

Offensively, Nikita Kucherov is once again leading the Bolts in playoff scoring. After playing just 47 games during the regular season, he has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in nine playoff games. He led Tampa Bay in each of the previous two Stanley Cup runs.

Lightning three-peat looking likely

tampa bay lightning
May 17, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates with teammates 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 Tampa Bay Lightning are generally healthy, but even without Brayden Point they haven’t missed a beat. He’s currently listed as doubtful after suffering a lower-body injury in their opening round series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If he should return, it’s hard seeing anyone in the East from preventing the Bolts to get to the Final for a third straight season.

According to Vegas Insider, the Tampa Bay Lighting went from a +900 before the playoffs starts to a +439. Only the Colorado Avalanche +185 and the Carolina Hurricanes at +360 have better odds.

To be honest, with back-to-back Cup wins on their resume, I’m not sure how they don’t have the best odds.

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