Panthers pour it in Game 5 rout, eliminate rival Lightning

Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each produced two goals and one assist as the host Florida Panthers eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 6-1 victory in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series Monday night in Sunrise.

After two prior series defeats, this is the first time the Panthers have beaten the Lightning in a playoff round.

The Panthers await the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs series. The Bruins lead the series 3-1 with Game 5 set for Tuesday night in Boston.

Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky, who earlier in the day was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie, made 31 saves.

Evan Rodrigues and Niko Mikkola, who added an assist, also scored for the Panthers. Matthew Tkachuk chipped in with two assists.

Victor Hedman scored for the Lightning, who got 33 saves from goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Tampa Bay appeared to open the scoring with seven minutes left in the first period as Anthony Cirelli knocked in a rebound. But Florida coach Paul Maurice challenged the call, and the goal was disallowed due to goalie interference by former Panthers forward Anthony Duclair.

The teams were playing four-on-four when the first legitimate goal occurred. Verhaeghe followed his own shot and scored with just 45 seconds elapsed in the second period.

Verhaeghe’s first shot, from the high slot off a pass from Barkov, produced a long rebound. Verhaeghe then beat three Lightning players to the puck.

With 11:22 gone in the second, Panthers forward Anton Lundell was penalized for a high-sticking penalty on Steven Stamkos.

But with 44 seconds left on Tampa Bay’s ensuing power play, Florida scored shorthanded as Vasilevskiy couldn’t grab Aaron Ekblad’s shot from the point.
The puck went off Vasilevskiy’s glove and Barkov pounced for a rebound goal that made it 2-0.

Tampa Bay, though, scored 15 seconds after its power play elapsed as the Lightning denied a Panthers clearing attempt. Instead, Hedman’s high blast went in over Bobrovsky’s glove. A few seconds earlier, Bobrovsky had spun completely around to stop a Stamkos shot.

With 2:12 left in the second, the Lightning appeared to tie the score on Mikhail Sergachev’s shot. But the referees disallowed the goal due to goalie interference on Cirelli.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper challenged the call and lost.

Florida poured it on in the third with goals from Barkov (rebound with 9:54 left); Rodrigues (one-timer off the rush, 5:44); Verhaeghe (empty-netter, 3:57); and Mikkola (empty-netter, 1:19).

–Field Level Media