2021 Stanley Cup playoffs: Lightning take command after Game 2 victory over Panthers
Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning are heading home with a 2-0 series lead after a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in their first round Central division series of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves while Panthers goalie Chris Dreidger, making his first career playoff start on his 27th birthday, stopped 26 shots.

Story of the game

Tampa Bay was the first to strike 4:52 into the game as Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn had a two-on-one and as they passed back and forth with each other, the final pass deflected off of former Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman.

The visitors were on another two-on-one with Mackenzie Weegar making a back check to stop Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Tampa Bay doubled the lead as a shot from Point hit off the crossbar and on the rebound, Ondrej Palat scored off of a wrist shot made it 2-0 Tampa Bay.

Florida cut the lead in half with 5:39 left in the second period as Aleksander Barkov dug out the puck from behind the Tampa Bay net and passed it to Carter Verhaeghe, who found Mason Marchment, tapping it in over Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Panthers limited their in-state rivals to just four shots in the second period after Tampa Bay had 16 in first. Weegar was called for roughing at the end of the second period, but the power play was erased when Kucherov was called for tripping Anthony Duclair.

Pulling Dreidger with two minutes left, Yanni Gourde scored into the empty net to put the game out of reach.