Panthers top Lightning 4-1, Lightning hold 3-2 series lead


Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11) battles with Tampa Bay Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) during the second period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TAMPA (WFLA) – Spencer Knight stole the show helping the Florida Panthers defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 by the score of 4-1.

The Bolts scored first and quickly by forward Ross Colton just 53 seconds into the game.

However, Knight kept the Panthers in the game with 21 saves in the first period including five on a Lightning power play in the first period.

The 20-year-old Knight stopped 36 shots, Mackenzie Weegar had a goal and an assist, and the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Monday night in Game 5 of their Central Division playoff series.

The Lightning still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and host Game 6 on Wednesday night. But Knight — the third different goalie to start for Florida in this series — stymied the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

Mason Marchment and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Panthers, and Frank Vatrano added an empty-netter with 14.6 seconds left. Aleksander Barkov had a pair of assists.

Knight was 4-0-0 after turning pro following his sophomore season at Boston College and signing with the Panthers. And following the struggles of Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger in the first four games of the series — they gave up a combined 19 goals — the Panthers began dropping hints on Sunday that it would be Knight’s turn, then let more clues emerge at Monday’s morning skate.

They didn’t officially announce Knight as the starter until pregame warmups began Monday. With the way he played, there might not even be a need to ask about who starts Game 6.

Knight, at 20 years and 35 days, is believed to be the seventh-youngest goaltender to appear in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Harry Lumley was 18 in his first postseason game and Tom Barrasso, Bill Ranford, Grant Fuhr, Don Beaupre and Martin Brodeur all made their playoff debuts at 19 years old.

He’s the youngest goalie to make his playoff debut in an elimination game.

The Panthers improved to 4-6 all-time when facing elimination, including the one win it got to stave it off temporarily in last season’s play-in round against the New York Islanders. Tampa Bay is now 18-12 when it has a chance to close out a series.

Game 6 is back in Tampa on Wednesday.

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