The battle of Florida is heating up as the Florida Panthers rallied for a 6-5 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of their Central Division first-round series in the Stanley Cup playoffs at Amalie Arena.
Ryan Lomberg scored 5:56 into overtime as the Panthers rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to cut the Lightning's series lead in half.
Story of the match
Florida got the scoring started 4:31 into the game when, on the rush, Owen Tippett sent a cross-ice pass to Jonathan Huberdeau, who passed it to Sam Bennett and he beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with a backhand to make it 1-0.
The visitors doubled their lead as Radko Gudas saw his initial shot blocked by Ondrej Palat. After Gustav Forsling passed back to Gudas, he beat Vasilevskiy at his near lost from inside the right circle as the Panthers led 2-0 after the first period.
Tampa Bay exploded for five goals in a 16:20 span. Anthony Cirelli got the hosts on the board, Ross Colton tied it and Steven Stamkos put Tampa Bay in front for the first time on the night.
Alex Wennberg tied things up as Tippett screened Vasilevskiy in front, but the Lightning went ahead 5-3 after two periods thanks to power play goals by Brayden Point and Alex Killorn.
Having gone 28-0-0 in the regular season when leading entering the third period, but after Palat was sent off for boarding, Huberdeau passed into the crease and Patric Hornqvist scored on a redirect to make it 5-4.
Wennberg then spotted Forsling high on the opposite side and the Swede beat Vasilevskiy between the wickets to tie the game with 3:07 left in regulation. There would be no more scoring as the game went to overtime.
In the extra session, Noel Accari won a faceoff in his own zone, Gudas got the puck into the neutral zone where Frank Vatrano jabbed it past Victor Hedman and Lomberg picked up, scoring on a breakaway to cap a memorable night in Tampa.
Florida postgame reaction
Lomberg talked about the game-winning goal, saying "I don't remember too much. Honestly, I kind of knew what I was going to do ahead of time and it ov worked out pretty well.
"Obviously, not the second period we're looking for, but we know how good of a team we are. We know what we're capable of. There wasn't any quit for a split second there. Proud of our guys."
Sergei Bobrovsky, who relieved Dreidger in the third period and will start Game 4, added "I'm really proud of the guys.
"We were down 5-3 after that second period and we get that W. It's a big win for us, but it's only one game. We enjoy it and get ready for the next one."
Tampa Bay postgame reaction
Head coach Jon Cooper isn't surprised Florida is back in the series, but is confident his team will bounce back.
"I don't think anybody expected this to be a sweep", he said. "I think people expect this to be a really good series, and it has been."
Killorn echoed Cooper's sentiments, stating "nobody's worried in our locker room. We know that (the Panthers are) a good team. I think there's certain things we can do better when we get that lead in the third period."
"We kind of sat back a little bit too much, I thought", added Hedman. "It kind of felt like we were protecting a lead and not playing to our strengths. We knew that and we weren't happy with how we played in the third.
"(The Panthers) are going to push sometimes, but we weren't good enough in the third, and that's the bottom line."