Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Playoff Daily: Sergei Bobrovsky and Matthew Tkachuk control the creases as Panthers win again

Carter Verhaeghe stung the Tampa Bay Lightning again, this time in overtime as he scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory that gave the Florida Panthers a 2-0 series lead.

Verhaeghe had the final exclamation point, while Matthew Tkachuk and Sergei Bobrovski provided everything else for Florida.

Bobrovsky only had to make 21 saves, but his two stops in the second period, limiting Tampa from taking the lead in spectacular fashion, are going to be centrepieces in playoff highlight reels and montages.

Matt Dumba had a gaping, wide-open net; Bobrovsky was facing the wrong direction and it should have been the easiest finish of the Lightning defender’s career. Instead, Bobrovsky dove back, backwards, and got it with his glove.

It was somehow, remarkably, his second-best save of the period.

While the save on Dumba came with an element of luck and chance, like most great saves do, Bobrovsky’s split toe save on Anthony Cirelli later was all skill and anticipation, somehow keeping the puck out despite a mass of humanity crashing into the goalie as he made the stop.

Awesome stuff from Bob.

At the other end of the ice, Andrei Vasilevsky was great, but he was effectively beaten because Tkachuk took up residence in the crease most of the game. The Panthers, always a hard-crashing team anyway, flooded it in Game 2 and on both the opening goal of the game and the overtime winner, Tkachuk was there getting tangled with the Tampa goalie.

Avs bounce back

We ripped into Alexander Georgiev in this space on Monday, so it’s only fair that we give him his flowers today.

With Justus Annunen still sick, the Avalanche gave the beleaguered goaltender a second chance and he delivered with a 28-save performance as Colorado tied the series up with a 5-2 victory in Game 2 against the Winnipeg Jets.

In front of Georgiev, the Avalanche found their offence from their depth.

Miles Wood scored right off a clean face-off win by Ross Colton, a surprising statement to write with Colorado's typical ineffectiveness on draws. Veterans Zach Parise and Andrew Cogliano combined on the forecheck, and an error by Connor Hellebuyck, and Josh Manson was sprung for a breakaway leaving the box because Gabriel Vilardi forgot to pick up his man while doing the same thing.

Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon had relatively quiet nights, even though both banked points, and Colorado evened the series because of the names not on the marquee.

DeSmith gets a tough start.

We aren’t only discussing goalies in this space, I promise.

But when the undisputed starter is out for Game 2 and questionable for the remainder of the series, we have to.

Thatcher Demko’s absence helped the Nashville Predators tie the series with a 4-1, ugly, victory in Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks.

It was a low-event hockey game for close to 50 minutes, and by the time Vancouver turned it on a bit in the third period they were already trailing 3-1.

Casey DeSmith wasn’t that bad, but he also got beaten on goals that are harder to replicate in practice. Deflections, shots in tight, and rebounds – things that goalies typically dial in on through game play as opposed to practice.

And when a goalie only faces 15 shots, like DeSmith did, it’s harder to establish a rhythm in your first start in 10 days.

DeSmith, to be clear, should be better in Game 3 if he’s needed. But the series is now tied up because of Demko’s injury.

Power play stuff

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals played an ugly one at even strength.

Washington only had 15 shots at five-on-five, the Rangers only netted 21. In 40 minutes of even-strength hockey, New York had a measly 1.45-0.99 edge in expected goals according to NaturalStatTrick. In fact, the first period only featured one high-danger chance for either team at even strength according to the site.

It turned both teams into power-play merchants, and neither were particularly good at cashing in.

Washington went 2-for-5 with the man advantage but scored on their only two power-play shots.

New York went 2-for-6, was better at generating chances – with nine shots on the power play – but the underlying numbers also indicate that New York was probably lucky to even convert once with the man advantage.

Not the prettiest game, by any means, but the series is exactly where everyone expected it to be with New York holding a 2-0 lead heading to Washington for Game 3.

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This article is about:
NHL Colorado Avalanche Florida Panthers Nashville Predators New York Rangers Tampa Bay Lightning Vancouver Canucks Washington Capitals Winnipeg Jets NHL Justus Annunen Sergei Bobrovski Anthony Cirelli Andrew Cogliano Ross Colton Thatcher Demko Casey DeSmith Matt Dumba Alexandar Georgiyev Nathan MacKinnon Cale Makar Josh Manson Zach Parise Matthew Tkachuk Andrei Vasilevsky Carter Verhaeghe Gabriel Vilardi Miles Wood
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