Lightning defeat Panthers in Game 1 of NHL Playoffs
SUNRISE, Fla. / AP — The return of several key players couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tampa Bay Lighting.
In their pursuit to defend their Stanley Cup title, Brayden Point scored two late goals, including the game-winner with 1:14 left in the third period to lead the Bolts to a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Nikita Kucherov scored two power-play goals in his first appearance after missing the entire regular season with a hip injury. Kucherov had surgery on Dec. 29 and played his first game since Sept. 28.
“I was excited to get back in a game. I’ve waited for this for a long time,” Kucherov said.
Blake Coleman scored a short-handed goal. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves and Victor Hedman, who also returned after missing the last two games, had three assists.
The Panthers had won their last six games of the regular season, including the final two against the Lightning before the return of several of their top players.
“They have good offense and a good team,” Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky said. “We have a good team, we have to forget this one and keep competing. We did some great things offensively. We have to put this behind us and move on.”
The teams meet again in Sunrise on Tuesday for Game 2.
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