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Panthers take Game 1 with two late goals, beat Lightning 3-2

Teammates congratulate Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) after Tkachuk scored an empty-net goal during the third period of Game 1 of the first-round of an NHL Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Carter Verhaeghe tapped in a pinpoint pass from Aleksander Barkov for the lead 58 seconds into the third period, Matthew Tkachuk added a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 1 of their NHL playoff series opener Sunday.

Barkov had two assists, Sam Reinhart also scored and Sergei Bobrovsky had 17 saves for the Panthers, who won a Game 1 on home ice for the first time since 1997.

Brandon Hagel and Steven Stamkos got the goals for Tampa Bay, which now trails Florida in a series for the first time. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 stops for the Lightning, who pulled him for an extra attacker with 3:08 remaining. Tkachuk got an empty-netter 63 seconds later, and Florida soon began celebrating a 1-0 series lead.

Stamkos scored with 9.3 seconds left for the Lightning.

Verhaeghe’s goal came on the power play, one that carried over from late in the second period. Barkov held the puck at the right point, then sent a diagonal pass through the slot to a hard-charging Verhaeghe — who was behind everyone else and simply touched the puck into an open net.

It’s the third time the Sunshine State rivals have met in the playoffs — both of the first two having gone Tampa Bay’s way, and basically in one-sided fashion. The Lightning won 4-2 on their way to their second straight Stanley Cup in 2021, then swept Florida 4-0 in 2022 and outscored the Panthers 13-3 in that series.


NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Vesey had a goal and an assist, Artemi Panarin also scored, and New York beat Washington in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Matt Rempe and Chris Kreider also scored, Barclay Goodrow had two assists and Igor Shesterkin finished with 20 saves to help the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers get the postseason off to strong start.

The Rangers, seeking their first Stanley Cup championship in 30 years, won their third straight and 11th in the last 14 games. New York’s Peter Laviolette became the first coach in NHL history to take six different teams to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Martin Fehervary scored and Charlie Lindgren stopped 27 shots for the Capitals, who had won three straight and four of their last five games to earn the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night.

With the Rangers up 3-1, Vesey had a great chance to add to the lead in the opening minute of the third period. However, Lindgren stopped his initial attempt in close and the rebound deflected off Vesey and went wide with Tom Wilson knocking it away.


WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Captain Adam Lowry and Kyle Connor each scored twice to propel Winnipeg to a victory over Colorado in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

It was the first time the two teams have met in the NHL playoffs.

A sold-out crowd of 15,225 white-clad fans had plenty to cheer about at the “whiteout” parties inside and outside Canada Life Centre.

Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists and Josh Morrissey registered a goal and assist. Vladislav Namestnikov also scored. Brenden Dillon, Gabriel Vilardi and Nino Niederreiter each added a pair of assists and Connor picked up one helper.

Connor Hellebuyck made 40 saves for the Jets, who are on a nine-game win streak.

Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen each notched a goal and one assist. Valeri Nichushkin, Miles Wood and Casey Mittelstadt also scored. Mikko Rantanen chipped in two helpers.

The Avalanche came into the series having lost all three regular-season games against Winnipeg.


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Dakota Joshua scored twice and had an assist and Vancouver stormed back for a win over Nashville in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Trailing 2-1, the Canucks rallied with a pair of goals 12 seconds apart — by Pius Suter and Joshua — midway through the third period.

Elias Lindholm also scored and Thatcher Demko stopped 20 shots for Vancouver, which was the Pacific Division champion and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2015.

Jason Zucker and Ryan O’Reilly scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros made 17 saves.

The Associated Press