Florida Panthers earn rematch in rematch against two-time Stanley Cup defending champion, Tampa Bay Lightning – Sun Ranger

Nick Paul scored twice, including a stunning solo effort on a tie-breaker late in the second half, as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 at Game 7 on Saturday night to win the first round of the playoffs, and is moving forward. To play the Florida Panthers in the second round.

In 2021, in the first round of the post-season, the Panthers were defeated 4-2 in a physical series that Tampa Bay won en route to their second straight Stanley Cup championship.

The Panthers, who won the President’s Cup this season with 122 points, will face Lightning who saw their best player, Brayden Point center, go out with a leg injury and not return in Game Seven in Toronto. “Nikita Kucherov was clearly not 100%,” said Nabil Karim of TNT about another superstar of lightning, right-winger Nikita Kucherov.

In the post-season game last year, Point collected four goals and two assists against Florida, and Kucherov was a massive three goals and eight assists.

On the TNT studio postgame, Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky was crucial in his praise of the Panthers: “I just think Florida is a better hockey club than it was a year ago. I think they had such a great year but I think they learned a lot in that series against Washington.” They’ve won some close, low-goal hockey games and made them a better team, and I think Florida will give [Tampa Bay] run here.”

Also at the TNT table, former Flyers player Rick Tuchet added, “If Point can’t play in this series…it will be very difficult for Tampa to beat Florida. Florida, and then heaves a sigh of relief for Washington.” [series]I think they’ll be more flexible and I think their high school grades will come alive in that thing.”

In Game Seven on Saturday, Andrei Vasilevsky blocked 30 shots for the two-time Stanley Cup champion.

Morgan Rielly has scored for Toronto, who hasn’t reached the second round since 2004 and is now 0-9 in elimination games over the last five seasons after losing 4-3 in Game 6 in Tampa two nights ago. And Jack Campbell saved 23 times.

The Maple Leafs were once again unable to move on and finally overturn a long, ugly narrative of final match failures for a series that has now lost its last seven series, including six in a row dating back to 2017.

Toronto is now 7-3 all time at home in Game 7s, including losing at Scotiabank Arena last season after topping out 3-1 in the series against Montreal Canadiens.

But Paul scored his second goal of the night – and his second ever in the playoffs – with 3:28 left in the period in an impressive play as he kicked the disc from his sled to his stick.

Tampa almost made it 3-1 at the end of the period when Kucherov hit the post from the slot.

Vasilevskiy was under siege throughout Toronto’s strong play after just over six minutes into the third minute, but he kept the home side in suspense despite some furious pressure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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