Posts Tagged ‘Game 2’

Cale Makar barely broke a smile after scoring his second goal and Colorado’s seventh of the night. He fist-bumped Mikko Rantanen to thank him for the pass and skated to the bench.

He and the Avalanche are calm, confident, and rolling. They’re now two wins from dethroning the two-time defending champions.

Looking like by far the better team, the Avalanche overwhelmed the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Coach Jared Bednar called it “as close to perfect of a game as you can get from your players.”

“I feel like we played to our identity to a ‘T’ tonight,” Makar said. “We had some good goals and stuff like that. … It was a little bit of a weird one tonight. Obviously, we’re getting opportunities but guys were able to able to capitalize, so that’s the good part.”

Valeri Nichushkin scored his seventh and eighth goals of the playoffs and continued to be the best player on the ice in the final, Game 1 overtime hero Andre Burakovsky beat Andrei Vasilevskiy again and even defensive defenseman Josh Manson and 35-year-old grinder Darren Helm got in on the fun with a goal apiece. Makar, who didn’t even have a shot on goal in Game 1, scored twice in the third period, inciting chants of “We want the Cup!” from a fired-up crowd.

“They’re playing at an elite level right now — give them credit. We are not,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “They’re two good teams. They’re just playing a much higher level right now than we are.”

Rarely have the Lightning been completely outclassed during this run of postseason success, but they also hadn’t faced an opponent like the Avalanche, who forced them into one uncharacteristic mistake after another. Colorado was dominant in every facet of the game to move two victories away from its first title since 2001 and the first by this core led by Nathan MacKinnon.

The Avalanche go to Tampa for Game 3 on Monday night up in the series despite no goals in the series from MacKinnon, who at times has played like a man possessed in an effort to finally break through and hoist the Cup. They still became just the third team in NHL history to score three-plus goals in the first period of Games 1 and 2 in the final.

“We played a pretty good game,” Helm said. “We just played a full 60-minute game.”

The dominant performance started by pouncing on an early mistake by typically reliable Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak when he bobbled the puck at the blue line on one of the game’s first shifts. It was all Avalanche after that.

Their aggressive forecheck led them to draw a penalty on veteran Ryan McDonagh and score on the ensuing power play when Burakovsky fed Nichushkin for his first of the night. It wasn’t his last, and Colorado poured it on with six of the game’s first seven shots and complete territorial domination with much of the game played in the Tampa Bay end.

With Vasilevskiy — whose play was the key to the Lightning’s incredible ability to bounce back after a loss in the playoffs — looking shaky and even dropping his head after letting Makar beat him clean on one of many 2-on-1 rushes, the Avalanche made the most of all their offensive zone time. The highest-scoring team this postseason put on a clinic against the team that has played more hockey than anyone else over the past two years.

That may finally be taking its toll, and it’s exacerbated by the blazing speed with which the Avalanche play. They again not only outskated the Lightning but used quick feet to force errors that turned into goals.

“We came out with a purpose,” said forward Andrew Cogliano, who returned after missing Game 1 with a right finger injury. “We got to our game, we skated from the drop of the puck and we just didn’t let up.”

Tampa Bay fell to 18-2 after a loss since the start of the first round in 2020. The streak of 18 in a row ended in the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers when the Lightning fell behind 2-0 before roaring back, though it’s hard to see Colorado falling into the same trap.

The way the Lightning lost this one — by far their biggest blowout loss during this run — came as a surprise to just about everyone.

“Am I shocked that we lost 7-zip?” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “I mean, I don’t think we saw that coming.”

Even if players brush off the concept of momentum from game to game during a playoff series, their romp over the champs combined with a 7-0 road record should fill the Avalanche with confidence. But they might again need to dip into their pool of depth because of injuries.

After getting Andrew Cogliano back from missing the season opener with a right finger injury, the Avalanche lost Burakovsky again in the second period. Burakovsky blocked a shot in the first game in the West final and has been playing through pain since. Bednar said he would be re-evaluated ahead of Game 2.

Colorado is inflicting plenty of pain on Tampa Bay, which resorted to some rough stuff after falling behind. Of course, even MacKinnon was throwing hits in the third period despite the game being well in hand.

Darcy Kuemper was barely tested in net for Colorado, picking up the shutout with 17 saves.

“He was just rock-solid,” Manson said. “He was exactly what we needed to be.”

The Golden State Warriors blew out the Boston Celtics 107-88 in Sunday’s Game 2 clash to even up the Finals.

Golden State led by just two points at halftime but outscored Boston 35-14 in the third quarter to pull away for a comfortable victory.

Stephen Curry followed up a big Game 1 with a strong two-way performance, posting 29 points, six boards, four assists, and three steals in 32 minutes. Jordan Poole and Gary Payton led the Warriors’ second unit with 17 and seven points, respectively.

“Steph was breathtaking in that (third) quarter. Not just the shotmaking, but the defensive effort,” Warriors bench boss Steve Kerr told reporters postgame. “He just doesn’t get enough credit for his level of conditioning, physicality, and defense.

“People go at him to try to wear him down because they know how important he is to us offensively. And it’s pretty dramatic the difference in Steph’s strength and physicality in his body now than from eight years ago when I first got here.”

Celtics star Jayson Tatum bounced back from a poor shooting night in Game 1, recording 28 points on 8-of-19 shots, including a 6-of-9 mark from deep. However, he didn’t have much support.

Three nights after his fourth-quarter heroics, Jaylen Brown shot 5-of-17, while Al HorfordRobert Williams, and Marcus Smart combined for only six points.

Golden State’s defense stepped up after a subpar Game 1 showing. The Warriors limited the Celtics to just 37.5% shooting and scored 33 points off 18 turnovers.

“We didn’t give ourselves a chance with those turnovers,” said Boston head coach Ime Udoka, according to Spotrac’s Keith Smith.

Udoka added: “That’s been an ongoing theme for us in the playoffs.”

Game 3 is on Wednesday in Boston at 9:00 p.m. ET.

The New York Rangers handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first back-to-back playoff loss since 2019 with a 3-2 Game 2 win Friday night.

Prior to falling into a 2-0 series hole in the Big Apple, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions had won 17 straight playoff games immediately following a loss within the same postseason.

The last time the Bolts lost two consecutive playoff contests was when the Columbus Blue Jackets swept them in the first round three seasons ago.

“It’s been a heck of a ride in terms of responding after losses in the past couple of years. It shows the character of this group. It’s the hardest trophy to win,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said, according to Bally Sports’ Gabby Shirley. “You’re going (to) come across some adverse moments, and this is certainly one of them.”

New York recorded its franchise-best eighth consecutive home playoff victory in the 2022 postseason.

The Lightning made it interesting after Nick Paul scored to draw them within one with two minutes remaining, but the Rangers shut the door and sent the Madison Square Garden faithful home happy.

Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad‘s snipe early in the third period stood as the eventual game-winner.

Bolts star Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring on the power play in the first frame, but Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller responded just over three minutes later. Kaapo Kakko gave his team a 2-1 edge heading into the first intermission, and New York didn’t relinquish the lead for the remainder of the contest.

Rangers veteran Chris Kreider and defenseman Adam Fox chipped in with two assists each.

Fox noted that the Lightning’s impressive run wasn’t on his teammates’ minds entering Game 2.

“We’re not thinking about what streaks teams have. … We’re just trying to bring it, day in and day out,” Fox said, per USA Today’s Vince Z. Mercogliano.

The Eastern Conference Final was largely billed as a goaltending battle, and so far, Igor Shesterkin is outperforming Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Shesterkin stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced for a .935 save percentage in Game 2. Vasilevskiy uncharacteristically struggled, stopping 25 of 28 shots to author an .893 clip.

“We get a chance to come back in front of our fans, and let’s start with next game, and we’ll go from there,” Stamkos said, according to Shirley. “This is a resilient group, and we need to get back to our identity. … We got to buckle down a little bit defensively.”

Puck drops on Game 3 at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday as the series shifts to Tampa Bay.

Nazem Kadri had three assists in a 2:04 span in the second period, backup Pavel Francouz stopped 24 shots for his second career playoff shutout and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

The Avalanche broke through in the second after a scoreless opening period that featured something rarely seen so far in this series — defense. Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson scored 15 seconds apart to get things going in the second, with Mikko Rantanen adding another on Kadri’s third assist.

Nathan MacKinnon scored late in the third.

Game 3 is Saturday in Edmonton. The Avalanche are 5-0 on the road so far in these playoffs, and 15-4 in a best-of-seven series when taking a 2-0 lead.

This game was a departure from a high-scoring Game 1 in which there were 14 goals and 84 shots.

Francouz grew stronger with every save he made as he stepped in for Darcy Kuemper, who left Game 1 with an upper-body injury. Francouz was serenaded with chants of “Frankie! Frankie!” from the crowd.

Colorado held Edmonton’s big three of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane to seven shots. Draisaitl saw his streak of nine straight games with at least one assist come to an end.

Mike Smith allowed four goals on 40 shots. This after the 40-year-old Smith was pulled in Game 1 after surrendering six goals.

To slow down the speedy MacKinnon, Edmonton shadowed him virtually at all times. The relentless pressure included a trip by Duncan Keith after the whistle. It didn’t draw a penalty but drew plenty of boos from the crowd. MacKinnon also got smacked in the face on a play.

The heavy focus on MacKinnon opened the door for others like Kadri, who was originally credited with the first goal at 3:58 of the second before it was ruled that Lehkonen tipped the puck.

Kadri tied the franchise record for assists in a period. It was a mark set by Quebec’s Risto Siltanen in 1987 and matched in 1996 by Avalanche Hall of Fame forward turned GM Joe Sakic.

Colorado and Edmonton turned in about as entertaining first period as possible for no goals scored. It included Edmonton weathering Colorado’s 5-on-3 advantage.

There was also a play where Smith used his helmet to redirect a puck out of the air.

Francouz got into the nifty save act, too, including one when he ventured well out of his crease. He was able to stop Cody Ceci’s liner.

THIS & THAT

Colorado’s two goals over a 15-second span was the fifth-fastest in a playoff game in franchise history, according to NHL Stats. The fastest was seven seconds by Adam Foote and Adam Deadmarsh during the 1996 conference final against Detroit.

MISSING KUEMPER

Colorado coach Jared Bednar didn’t specify the exact nature of Kuemper’s injury or say whether it had anything to do with the stick that went through Kuemper’s mask and caught him near the eye during the Nashville series.

 

Zach Hyman scored the go-ahead short-handed midway through the third period and the Edmonton Oilers rallied to beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Friday night, evening the second-round series at one game apiece.

Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist, becoming the fastest active player to reach 20 points (six goals, 14 assists in nine games) in a single postseason, and fastest among any player since Mario Lemieux in 1992.

Leon Draisaitl and defenseman Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists and Evan Bouchard also scored for Edmonton, which lost 9-6 in Game 1 and trailed 3-1 early in the second of this one.

Oilers goalie Mike Smith, pulled early in the last game, made 37 saves for the win and assisted on Draisaitl’s insurance goal.

Michael Stone, Brett Ritchie and Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists and Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots.

The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heads to Edmonton’s Rogers Place for Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4. The Oilers went 18-4-2 at home over their final 24 games of the regular season.

The Alberta rivals are squaring off in the playoffs for a sixth time, but the first since 1991.

One of the NHL’s top teams 5-on-5, the Flames were short-handed for almost 11 minutes. Edmonton scored its first power-play goal of the series midway through the second period to send the game into the third deadlocked 3-3.

Hyman turned Calgary’s offensive-zone turnover into a breakaway. He scored the short-handed, tiebreaking goal going upstairs on Markstrom at 10:14 of the third.

Smith passed the puck to Draisaitl for another breakaway just over two minutes later. The forward, who is playing through a lower-body injury, put the puck off the post and in on Markstrom’s stick side at 12:36.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins penalized for slashing at 16:48, the Flames couldn’t convert a power play into a goal. Calgary went 1 for 5 with a man advantage, while the Oilers were 1 for 6.

Two broken Oilers sticks contributed to a pair of Flames goals in the first two periods.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse was hampered down low without his in the second period and didn’t manage an exchange with a forward. Gaudreau threaded a pass to the front of the crease for Elias Lindholm to flip to Toffoli, who scored a power-play goal at 2:04 for a 3-1 Calgary lead.

Draisaitl’s goal at 2:31 of the second was waived off. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter successfully challenged goaltender interference by McDavid.

However, McDavid struck seconds later to draw Edmonton within a goal. He rolled off Calgary defenseman Nikita Zadorov into open ice, took a pass from Keith and stickhandled the puck by Markstrom’s outstretched pad at 3:05.

Bouchard pulled the Oilers even at 15:03 during Stone’s double minor for high-sticking. The defenseman wired a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle upstairs on Markstrom.

After setting the record for the fastest two goals to start a playoff game in the series opener with a pair within 51 seconds, Calgary struck early again, 63 seconds after puck drop. Hyman broke his stick and wasn’t able to retrieve another from the bench before Stone’s slapshot from the point beat Smith bottom corner glove side.

The Flames made it 2-0 at 6:02 when Smith bobbled a shot by Erik Gudbranson. Ritichie pounced on the loose puck in the crease and put a backhand by the Oilers’ goalie.

Keith halved the deficit with 6:15 left in the first. McDavid circling out from behind the net, held off Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson with one arm, and held the puck on his stick with the other. McDavid shoveled a one-handed pass to Keith, who beat Markstrom far side.

Hyman celebrated an Oilers goal with just over four minutes left in the opening period, but officials waived it off. The whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal line in a crease scramble.

NO TANEV AGAIN

The Flames were missing top shutdown defenseman Chris Tanev for a third straight game. He was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s first-round series against Dallas. Tanev skated in practice this week, but hasn’t dressed for games.

NOTES: Gaudreau extended his playoff point streak to seven consecutive games (two goals, 10 assists) and tied Lanny McDonald (1984) for the fifth-longest in Flames history. … McDavid stretched his playoff multi-point streak to five straight games. The only other players in NHL history with a run of five or more multi-point games were Wayne Gretzky (1983), Tony Currie (1981), Darryl Sittler (1977), Evgeni Malkin (2009) and Dale Hawerchuk (1993).

Luka Doncic was dominating, yelling in celebration and flexing his arms in Stephen Curry’s house.

Then Curry and the Golden State Warriors delivered one of those signature third-quarter flurries that have defined so many of their postseason runs — with this one being sparked by Kevon Looney.

Just like that, they’re two wins away from getting back to another NBA Finals.

Curry scored 32 points with six 3-pointers and eight more rebounds, Looney had a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds and the Warriors rallied past the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 on Friday for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

“I feel honored just to be a part of the ride,” Looney said.

Doncic scored 42 points and the Mavericks led most of the way before the Warriors took their first lead of the night on Otto Porter Jr.’s 3-pointer 18 seconds into the fourth.

Doncic had 18 points in the first quarter — two shy of his 20-point Game 1 total. His 3-pointer with 13 seconds before halftime — the Mavs’ 15th of the first half — made it 72-58 at the break and gave him 24 points.

“Against someone that good you’re just trying to limit some of the easy stuff,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Doncic even got a Twitter shoutout from Oakland’s own MC Hammer: “Ok young Luka … We see you.”

But Golden State answered with a 25-13 third quarter to pull to 85-83 going into fourth — coming out of halftime with a performance reminiscent of those thrilling third quarters of past.

“We know how good they are as a third-quarter team,” Dallas forward Reggie Bullock said. “It’s just something that slipped away from us as the game continued to go on.”

Doncic shot 12 for 23 and shined in a game of brilliant shotmaking — the Warriors finished 56.1% from the floor. In the first half alone, Dallas edged Golden State 52.3% to 51.2%, including a remarkable 55.6% to 53.3% from 3-point range.

The series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on Sunday. Golden State is two wins from a return to the NBA Finals for the first time since making five straight trips from 2015-19.

“We’re on the road against one of the best teams in the league. It happens. They held serve,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ve seen this in Phoenix so now we have to go back and just focus on Game 3.”

Jordan Poole scored 23 points off the bench, Andrew Wiggins had 16 and Klay Thompson — held scoreless in the first half of the series opener — added 15 points for a second straight game. Golden State scored 62 points in the paint.

Jalen Brunson scored eight of the first 14 Dallas points on the way to 31. The Mavericks didn’t have to see as much of Draymond Green, who picked up his fifth foul with 6:01 left in the third, then returned with 6:33 left before fouling out with 2:25 to go.

The teams tangled with 8:03 left in the second quarter in front of the Dallas bench. Warriors reserve Damion Lee closed out as Davis Bertans hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Bertans tripped Lee and sent him in a flip hard to the floor. Lee had to be held back by official Eric Lewis.

The players were issued double technicals.

In Game 1 two days earlier, Doncic faced smothering defense from Wiggins and shot just 6 for 18 and 3 of 10 from deep. Kidd expected a far better outing in Game 2.

Golden State continued to push the pace and committed 16 turnovers after 15 in the opener.

RELIABLE LOONEY

Moved back into the starting lineup for the clinching Game 6 of the semifinals against Memphis, Looney shot 10 for 14 after making all five of his field goals in Game 1.

He notched his second career postseason double-double.

“Tonight was my night to make a big difference and I just stepped up,” Looney said.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: Dallas led by as many as 16 in the opening quarter. … The Mavs were outrebounded again at 43-30 after a 51-35 disadvantage in Game 1. They committed one fewer turnovers with 12 after Doncic had seven in the series opener. “We’ve got to take care of the ball because the Warriors once you turn the ball over, they’re gone, and a lot of times it’s an open 3,” Kidd said beforehand.

Warriors: G Gary Payton II — who broke his left elbow on a hard foul when Memphis star Dillon Brooks clobbered him May 3 on a fast break for a Flagrant 2, ejection and one-game suspension — is doing light individual work on court that includes shooting with his non-dominant right hand and will be re-evaluated in a week. … F Andre Iguodala missed his ninth straight game with a disc injury in his neck is continuing his rehab with physical therapy and training in the weight room with some light on-court work. The Warriors said they will provide an update when he’s cleared to practice. … Golden State improved to 8-0 at home this postseason and is 18-5 in Game 2s dating to the 2015 title run. … Green was voted to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.

QUOTABLE

“Steph is the best-conditioned athlete in this game, he never stops moving.” — Kidd

Brendan Smith had gone nine years since last finding the back of the net in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And Antti Raanta, well, he never had a postseason game like this.

The Carolina Hurricanes keep finding different ways to win in the playoffs. It’s why they’re unbeaten at home, and up 2-0 again in a series.

Smith scored a short-handed goal late in the second period while Raanta had 21 saves for his first postseason shutout to help the Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 2-0 on Friday night, claiming Game 2 of their second-round series.

“I think if we just stick to our style, it’s eventually going to wear on teams and we’re going to find a way to win,” Smith said.

Smith’s goal off a feed from Sebastian Aho was the difference in a tightly defended game by both teams with little space to operate and even fewer traffic-free looks at the net.

Aho added a clinching empty-net score to finish this off with 1.8 seconds left as Raanta held up.

It came two nights after the Hurricanes rallied to tie Game 1 in the final minutes on Aho’s tying third-period goal, then a rare OT score by defenseman Ian Cole. That came after a higher-scoring first-round series against Boston that went the full seven games.

“Teams that are still playing at this time of year, they can adapt to whatever the game is,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

Now 6-0 at home in the playoffs, Carolina faces the challenge of winning on the road for the first time in the postseason after failing to win a road game against the Bruins.

They’ll get their first chance to win at Madison Square Garden in Game 3 on Sunday. And the Rangers must mount another series comeback after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat Pittsburgh in a seven-game first-round series.

“I’m happy with the way we’ve performed overall,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “I wish we would’ve got one of these two games. We probably could’ve, but that’s the way it goes.”

Igor Shesterkin finished with 20 saves to lead the Rangers on a night with few offensive highlights.

The teams combined for 43 shots and each had big penalty kills, with New York killing off more than a minute of 5-on-3 time while the Hurricanes scored their short-handed goal on a 4-minute kill for a double-minor high-sticking penalty on Brady Skjei.

THE WINNER

The Hurricanes had flirted with tallying a short-handed goal earlier in the game multiple times, including once when Teuvo Teravainen pinged the right post in the first period from the slot off a feed from Aho.

It ended up foreshadowing the Hurricanes’ breakthrough score, with Aho skating in on the right side to set up Smith for a one-timer from the left that cleanly zipped past Shesterkin for the putaway with 4:06 left in the second.

LONG TIME

The 33-year-old Smith had two career postseason goals. The last had come May 18, 2013, in Game 2 of Detroit’s seven-game second-round series loss to Chicago.

STEADY

This was Raanta’s 13th career playoff game, and marked his first keeping the net clear. It helped, too, that Carolina finished with 24 blocked shots, five coming from defenseman Brett Pesce.

“I didn’t feel like I needed to do that many huge saves or like that,” Raanta said. ‘All the guys were making sure there was no backdoor plays or easy shots. … The guys helped me a lot for sure.”

LOW OUTPUT

The Rangers have managed one goal in the first two games, with the lone score coming off a neutral-zone turnover at the 7:07 mark of Game 1.

It hadn’t helped that offensive stars Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider haven’t gotten going. They’ve combined for seven shots on goal through two games.

“Get more pucks to the net, more bodies to the net, more traffic, create your own luck, create your own bounces,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “I think that’s got to be a little more of our mindset.”

CHANGING LOOKS

Brind’Amour tweaked his lines a bit looking for a spark in the Game 1 comeback, then stuck with that look for Game 2.

Most notably, Teravainen moved up to the top line to play alongside Aho and rookie Seth Jarvis, while Andrei Svechnikov moved to the second line. Brind’Amour also moved up speedy skater Martin Necas to the second line and bumped Max Domi — the Game 7 hero against Boston — down to the fourth line.

The Rangers stayed with the same line pairings to start this one, though Gallant eventually moved Alexis Lafrenière up to the second line alongside Panarin and Ryan Strome in the third.

“I’m trying to get a goal,” Gallant said.

HOME COMFORT

The Hurricanes’ 6-0 home playoff record marks the first time an NHL team has won its first six postseason home games since Nashville in 2017. It also marks the franchise’s longest home winning streak in a single postseason.

In four games over a pressure-filled week, the Tampa Bay Lightning have gone from the brink of playoff elimination to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ross Colton scored with 3.8 seconds remaining, giving the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series on Thursday night.

The Lightning have won four straight since falling behind Toronto 3-2 in the first round and will look to take a commanding series lead over the Presidents Trophy-winning Panthers when the matchup moves across the state to Tampa for Game 3 on Sunday.

Colton said he was just trying not to get scored on in the final minute. He wound up being the hero when Nikita Kucherov retrieved a loose puck behind the Florida net and flicked a perfect no-look, backhand pass that Colton lifted over Sergei Bobrovsky’s right shoulder to win it.

“I was kind of trying to sit back and let the plays come to us. But when you’re on the ice with (Kucherov), you have to be ready for anything. Once I saw the puck behind the net, I just went to the front of the net,” Colton said.

“He’s got eyes in the back of his head, as you can see, because I didn’t even know he knew I was there. He gift-wrapped it for me,” Colton continued. “Luckily it just squeaked under the bar there, but unbelievable play by him.”

Florida, which had the NHL’s best record during the regular season, now has to win four of the final five games in the series to advance to the Eastern Conference final.

The Lightning, meanwhile, are playing like a team determined to become the first to win three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders captured four in a row in the early 1980s.

“We’re two games closer to where we want to be, but we’re not there yet,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I told you this in the last series, and I’m going to tell you again: Tonight was just one game. We’re here to win a series.”

Florida interim head coach Andrew Brunette expects the Panthers to bounce back when the series resumes in Tampa.

“Obviously, it’s really hard. It’s not easy. This is a roller-coaster ride that were are on,” Brunette said. “The sun will come up, and we will wake up, and we need to keep playing like we’re playing.”

Tampa Bay’s power play once again was a catalyst, producing Corey Perry’s first-period goal after delivering three goals in the Lightning’s 4-1 victory in Game 1.

Florida’s power play, meanwhile, continued to sputter.

The Panthers scored the third-most power-play goals during the regular season, but entered the second game of the series 0 for 21 in man-advantage situations through seven postseason games.

They were 0 for 4 Thursday night, with the team’s lone goal coming on a 30-foot shot from Eetu Luostarinen that trickled past Andrei Vasilevskiy with 1:53 remaining in the second period.

“They are squeezing it,” Brunnette said of Florida’s power play. “It’s really unbelievable. I liked the urgency, thought we had some looks. I thought it was better. There was a great opportunity to capitalize.”

Bobrovsky said the Panthers have to try and forget this loss and come back ready to fight on Sunday.

“Obviously everyone is disappointed,” Bobrovsky said. “It was quiet, but all the guys are pros. They understand that the next game is big. We can make a difference in the future, not in the past. That’s it. We have to stay together and keep working.

“This is a good challenge for us. The whole year we have been fighting. We have found a way to come back in games, from adversities. This is another test for us. We’re just going to reset and regroup for the next one.”

Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 35 shots for Tampa Bay. Bobrovsky finished with 25 saves.

NOTES: Brunette is a finalist for NHL coach of the year, as is former Panthers coach Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers and Calgary coach Darryl Sutter — the brother of former Panthers coach Duane Sutter. The finalists were announced Thursday. … Tampa’s Amalie Arena is playing host to a concert Saturday, so the teams get an extra day off before starting a back to back with Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Monday. … Thursday marked only the second day that the Panthers had a home playoff game on the same day that the Miami Heat — their South Florida neighbors who play about 45 minutes south — had one of their own. The first such day was Tuesday.

David Perron scored twice as St. Louis switched up its line combinations, Jordan Binnington made 30 saves and the Blues beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Thursday night to tie their second-round series at a game apiece.

Jordan Kyrou added a goal and Brandon Saad sealed it with an empty-netter for the Blues as they rode another stellar performance from Binnington. The Blues goaltender stopped 51 shots during a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1.

Binnington’s flashing his 2019 form, when as a rookie he led the Blues to a Stanley Cup title with a 16-10 mark and a 2.46 goals-against average.

Gabriel Landeskog scored on a power play early in the third for Colorado to make it 2-1. But Perron answered right back with his seventh goal of these playoffs.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots. Two of the goals he allowed were redirected off the stick of a defenceman.

Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche found open ice a scarce commodity against a physical, hard-checking and more determined Blues squad.

Game 3 is Saturday in St. Louis.

Among the line changes by the Blues was pairing Pavel Buchnevich with Ryan O’Reilly and Perron.

“Move some guys around to see if we can create some balance throughout our lines,” Blues coach Craig Berube explained.

All the line switches worked. Buchnevich finished with two assists.

The Blues had a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period when Devon Toews was called for tripping and Valeri Nichushkin for goaltender interference after slamming into Binnington, whose stick went flying.

Perron made them pay when his liner deflected off the stick of Josh Manson — who scored the OT winner in Game 1 — and past Kuemper.

Earlier in the second, Kyrou’s shot deflected off the stick of defenceman Samuel Girard and over the shoulder of Kuemper.

Colorado defenceman Cale Makar was shaken up late in the first period when he fell to the ice and hit his leg on the post, knocking the goal off its moorings. He gingerly skated to the bench, but was back on the ice after intermission.

The Blues mixed up their line combinations for Game 2, but it was the defencemen generating most of the early shots. Of the 14 shots they had in the first period, eight were from the defence.

Colorado has been ousted from the playoffs the last three seasons in the second round.

His team was down by 10 in the opening minutes, and Boston coach Ime Udoka was making no effort to hide his level of disappointment.

His message was simple.

“Wake up,” he told his team.

Oh, they listened. And the Eastern Conference finals are all knotted up, the series about to shift to Boston with the Celtics now holding the home-court advantage.

Jayson Tatum scored 27 points, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown each had 24 and the Celtics went on a massive first-half run to roll past the Miami Heat 127-102 on Thursday night in Game 2 of the series.

“Guys have pride and looked at a golden opportunity that we kind of lost (in Game 1) and thought we could do much better,” Udoka said. “And we did that tonight.”

Smart was a rebound shy of a triple-double, after adding 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Grant Williams scored 19 points for Boston, which used a 17-0 run late in the first quarter — fueled by five 3-pointers in the span of six possessions — to take control. Payton Pritchard and Al Horford each had 10 for the Celtics.

“We were pretty confident,” Pritchard said.

Jimmy Butler had 29 points in 32 minutes for Miami, which fell to 7-1 at home in these playoffs. Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo each scored 14 points, and Tyler Herro added 11 for the Heat.

“This only counts as one,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s what the experienced players in the locker room and staff understand. We don’t like it. They played extremely well. You have two really good teams and we just have to figure some things out.”

The Celtics — now 4-0 in these playoffs in the game immediately following a loss — made 20 shots from 3-point range to Miami’s 10. Game 3 is Saturday in Boston.

“It’s a loss, whether you lose by one or by 20,” Vincent said. “It’s regroup, go back to the drawing board and get ready for Game 3.”

And the margin could have been worse: Boston led by as many as 34 points in the fourth, putting this game on the cusp of really good Celtics history and really bad Heat history. The Celtics’ record for biggest postseason win ever is 40, the Heat record for biggest postseason loss ever is 36, and those numbers were within reach before a meaningless Miami run over the final moments.

Boston trailed by 10 in the first quarter, then outscored Miami 60-21 over the next 18 minutes — a 39-point turnaround that wound up leading to a 70-45 halftime lead.

The 25-point halftime lead was the biggest by the Celtics in any road playoff game, topping a 22-point edge at the break at Chicago in 2009.

“They came out,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said, “and hit us in the mouth.”

Brown had 11 points in the first quarter, when the Celtics went 9 for 11 from 3-point range. Tatum then had 17 points in the second and Boston kept pulling away, on a day where everything went the Celtics’ way. They learned earlier in the day that two starters — Horford (virus-related issues) and Smart (mid-foot sprain) — were cleared to play in Game 2 after missing the series opener.

“I got to get my rest, got to get my health back, got to watch and see some things and come out and execute in this game,” Smart said.

And the good news kept coming well into the night.

Butler did all he could to try and manufacture a comeback, scoring 16 points in the third quarter and getting the Heat within 17. But a 12-2 run late in the quarter by the Celtics restored a 27-point edge. The lead was 96-71 going into the fourth and the outcome was never remotely close to being in question the rest of the way.

Miami didn’t even use its starters in the fourth quarter.

“It has to hurt,” Butler said. “They tried to embarrass us. They did embarrass us. … Overall, we just have to be better.”

TIP-INS

Celtics: Technically, Boston had one other “road” game with a bigger halftime lead. The Celtics were the designated visitor on Sept. 7, 2020 — in the bubble at Walt Disney World — when they led Toronto by 27 at the break. … With Horford back, Grant Williams returned to his off-the-bench role. … Tatum got his second foul with 4:14 left in the first, after charging into Butler. The entirety of the 17-0 run came with him on the bench.

Heat: Kyle Lowry (hamstring) sat for the eighth time in the last 10 games. … It was the first game since Dallas-Atlanta on Feb. 1, 2020 in which both teams had a 10-point lead in the first quarter…. P.J. Tucker had Miami’s first five points, all in the game’s first 51 seconds. It was his 863rd career game, the first in which he had five points in the first minute. Those were his only points of the night, and he left in the third quarter with a left knee contusion.

25 TWICE

This Boston team is the sixth club in the last 25 years to have two separate games where it led by at least 25 points in Miami in the same season. The Celtics also did it on Nov. 4. The other teams who pulled it off: Milwaukee last season (won NBA title), San Antonio in 2013-14 (won NBA title), Boston in 2007-08 (won NBA title), Toronto (2007-08) and Charlotte (2000-01).

500 AND COUNTING

The Heat announced their 500th consecutive sellout, excluding games affected by the pandemic. Only Dallas (867 and counting), Portland (814 from 1977 through 1995), Boston (662 from 1980 through 1995) and Chicago (610 from 1987 through 2000) have streaks that the NBA counts as being longer.