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Stamkos Doubles Up Lightning’s Victory To Keep Playoff Dreams Alive Against Panthers

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In Game 4 of the first-round playoff clash on Saturday night, Steven Stamkos notched his fourth and fifth goals of the series, propelling the Tampa Bay Lightning to a crucial 6-3 triumph over the Florida Panthers, staving off elimination.

Looking ahead, Game 5 is slated for Monday night in Florida. The odds are slim, as only four times in 206 instances has an NHL team managed to overturn a 3-0 deficit to secure a series victory.

Stamkos wasted no time making an impact, initiating the scoring barrage during the Lightning’s explosive three-goal first period. His contribution proved vital, particularly when he notched his second goal at 9:34 in the third period, extending Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-3 amidst sustained pressure from Florida. Nicholas Paul chipped in with a crucial goal during a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity with just 3:38 remaining.

Brandon Hagel showcased his prowess with two goals and an assist, while Brayden Point added a goal and two assists for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall between the pipes, making 22 saves, supported by Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, who each tallied three assists. Notably, Kucherov joined an elite group, becoming the fifth NHL player to achieve 10 three-assist games.

The surprise return of defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to the Lightning lineup after a lengthy absence due to surgery on his left leg injected further optimism. Sergachev made an immediate impact, contributing with an assist.

On the Panthers’ end, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson managed to find the back of the net, with Sergei Bobrovsky making 26 saves. Despite a resilient effort, the Panthers struggled to contain Tampa Bay’s offensive onslaught, conceding crucial goals during pivotal moments of the game.

Stamkos, Hagel, and Point orchestrated a dominant performance in the first period, scoring three goals within a span of 6:13 to establish a commanding 3-0 lead. Stamkos capitalized on a power play, while Hagel notched a short-handed goal, highlighting the Lightning’s versatility.

Although Florida managed to claw back into contention, cutting the deficit to 4-3 with Ekman-Larsson’s goal late in the second period, they ultimately fell short against Tampa Bay’s relentless offensive pressure.

Stamkos’ milestone achievement of reaching 100 postseason points underscores his importance to the Lightning, solidifying his legacy as one of the franchise’s all-time greats. With his 50th playoff goal, he surpassed Ondrej Palat, moving into solo possession of second place on the franchise list.

As the series progresses, Tampa Bay’s resilience in potential elimination games remains a formidable asset, boasting an impressive 8-5 record, the third-highest winning percentage among NHL teams in such situations.

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