First round: Lightning-Panthers Game 1 live updates

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Brayden Point scored twice in the final seven minutes to give the Lightning a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Sunday in Sunrise.

Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau and Owen Tippett scored early in the third period to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead after Nikita Kucherov had put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2 with a pair of second-period power-play goals.

Before that, former Lightning forward Carter Verhaeghe’s late first-period goal had given the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman and Florida’s Aleksander Barkov exchanged goals earlier in the period.

Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were both back in the Lightning lineup after long absences. Kucherov missed the entire regular season after offseason hip surgery. Stamkos had been out for more than a month with a lower-body injury.

Here’s how it happened:

Third period

PANTHERS GOAL: Jonathan Huberdeau gets loose on a breakaway and beats Andrei Vasilevskiy between the legs to tie the game. Lightning 3, Panthers 3.

PANTHERS GOAL: Owen Tippett gives the Panthers a 4-3 lead, scoring into an empty net after a spin-around pass from Jonathan Huberdeau that went off Victor Hedman.

Brandon Montour hits the side of the Lightning net with a blast from the right side.

Anthony Cirelli and Mason Marchment sent to the penalty box for roughing. You guessed it, another 4-on-4.

Aleksander Barkov flattens Mathieu Joseph

Andrei Vasilevskiy stops a great chance from Brandon Montour

Aleksander Barkov bent over in the neutral zone after being hit by Blake Coleman

Sam Bennett penalized or charging after hitting Coleman, possibly in retaliation for the Barkov hit

LIGHTNING GOAL: Brayden Point scores on the power play to tie the game. Lightning 4, Panthers 4

Blake Coleman can’t convert a backhanded chance on a breakaway with Ross Colton

LIGHTNING GOAL! Brayden Point scores on a breakaway after a stretch pass from Ryan McDonagh, beating Bobrovsky through the five hole with 1:14 to play.

(Lightning win 5-4)

Second period

Sergei Bobrovsky stops Ryan McDonagh on a backhand opportunity

Bobrovsky stops a backdoor tip-in chance from Ondrej Palat

Ross Colton misses high and wide from in tight

Anthony Duclair blocks a McDonagh blast from the left circle

Blake Coleman hauled down by Sam Bennett, who receives a holding penalty

LIGHTNING GOAL! Nikita Kucherov scores top shelf on the short side on the power play after Gustav Forsling breaks his stick. Lightning 2, Panthers 2.

Bobrovsky makes a blocker save on a hard wrist shot from Kucherov

Ondrej Palat penalized for interference moments after Patric Hornqvist drives Brayden Point hard into the boards

Brandon Montour penalized for slashing Alex Killorn, resulting in a brief 4-on-4 that will be followed by a Lightning power play

With Sergei Bobrovsky out of the play, Noel Acciari blocks Erik Cernak’s chance into an empty net

Bobrovsky stops Steven Stamkos slap shot from the left circle

Bobrovsky makes a sliding save to stop another Stamkos blast from the same spot

Panthers kill the penalty

Vasilevskiy gloves Bennett shot on a 2-on-1

Lightning go back on the power play. Markus Nutivaara penalized for tripping Anthony Cirelli

Alex Killorn leaves for the locker room after being hit in left foot by shot from Brayden Point

Cirelli absorbs hip check from Radko Gudas

LIGHTNING GOAL! Kucherov scores his second power-play goal of the game. Lightning 3, Panthers 2.

Scrum ensues to the left of the Lightning net after Mikhail Sergachev and Ryan Lomberg come together. Both receive roughing minors. Another 4-on-4 coming up.

Anthony Cirelli can’t convert a chance on an odd-man break

(Lightning lead 3-2 after two periods)

First period

Blake Coleman misses wide right of the net on a great chance from the slot after a pass from Yanni Gourde from below the goal line

Mikhail Sergachev goes hard into the boards after being hit by Frank Vatrano and Patric Hornqvist

Andrei Vasilevskiy gloves a wrist shot from Aleksander Barkov, and a brief scrum ensues

Nikita Kucherov and MacKenzie Weegar receive roughing penalties following a scrum along the boards, setting up a two-minute 4-on-4

Panthers just miss Jonathan Huberdeau on a stretch pass

Kucherov and Weegar are out of the box

Sergei Bobrovsky stops Ondrej Palat from in close after a great feed from Kucherov. Palat’s first shot went off Brandon Montour’s leg.

Alex Killorn whistled for slashing Huberdeau from behind as he drove the net, giving Florida a power play

Vasilevskiy stops Patric Hornqvist twice from in close

Apparent Panthers goal from Sam Bennett waived off, officials ruling Vasilevskiy had been shoved into the crease and was unable to play his position. Replays show Bennett pushed Vasilevskiy’s pad

LIGHTNING GOAL! Blake Coleman scores a backhand goal shorthanded on set play off the neutral-zone faceoff. Pass banked off the sidewall to Yanni Gourde, who feeds Coleman. Lightning 1, Panthers 0

Ryan McDonagh shoves Anthony Duclair into the side boards, resulting in a boarding penalty. Panthers will have a 5-on-3 advantage for about 10 seconds

Killorn exits the box and it’s now a 4-on-3 advantage for Florida

PANTHERS GOAL: Aleksander Barkov scores a power-play goal from above the right circle with Hornqvist setting a screen in front. Lightning 1, Panthers 1.

Mikhail Sergachev knocks down Sam Bennett

Frank Vatrano shot off the rush deflected wide of the net

Jan Rutta (holding) and Alexsander Barkov (roughing) receive minor penalties, resulting in a 4-on-4

Moments after Vasilevskiy stops a Huberdeau chance, Bobrovsky stones Kucherov on a breakaway

PANTHERS GOAL: Carter Verhaeghe blasts a shot past Vasilevskiy from the upper slot after a feed from Barkov. Panthers 2, Lightning 1.

Vatrano (unsportsmanlike conduct-embellishing) and Coleman (slashing) penalized after the goal. And we’ve got yet another 4-on-4, the third of the period.

Vasilevskiy gloves a shot from the high slot from Sam Bennett, then smothers the rebound.

Bobrovsky stops a backhand chance from Gourde as time expires in the period, then Gourde is hit from behind by Radko Gudas, setting off another scrum

(Panthers lead 2-1 at end of first period)

Your pregame scouting report

Here we go again. Can you believe it’s that time already?

Less than eight months after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton, the Bolts are back at it today, opening defense of their title as the 2021 playoffs get underway.

While similar to last season, the terrain is not altogether the same. We’re still in a pandemic, but teams are back playing in their home arenas, in front of increasingly larger crowds. So, rather than starting the postseason in a bubble in Toronto as they did a year ago, the Lightning will open their first-round series just a few hours from home in Sunrise.

Absent is the Columbus team that ousted Tampa Bay in the first round two seasons ago and pushed it in a five-game opening series a year ago. The Blue Jackets failed to make the postseason field, as did the Cup-finalist Dallas Stars.

Instead, the Lightning will begin play against an upstart Florida squad that hasn’t won a playoff series in 25 seasons but finished four points ahead of Tampa Bay in the Central Division standings, taking five of the eight regular-season meetings between the teams.

The format is different, too, as teams will stay within their divisions for the first two rounds of the playoffs to limit travel during the pandemic. That means the winner of the Lightning-Panthers series will meet the Carolina Hurricanes or Nashville Predators in the second round. The four division champs will then be reseeded based on regular-season points, with the winners of those series playing for the Stanley Cup.

As always, the Lightning will be buoyed by the presence of Andrei Vasilevskiy in net. And they expect to see a few familiar faces back on the ice in forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Kucherov spent the regular season on the long-term injured reserve list following offseason hip surgery. Stamkos has been out for the past month with a lower-body injury.

Follow our live coverage of Game 1, starting at 7:30 p.m., as the Lightning hope to take the first step toward becoming just the second team in the past 22 seasons (there was no season in 2004-05 due to a lockout) and first since the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

If last season is any indication, it could be a long ride.

Setting the scene

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