TAMPA, Fla. – After scoring twice in a 5-2 win over Toronto in Game 4 of the Lightning’s first-round series, Ross Colton spoke about how he wanted to be a part of the energy of playoff hockey that he enjoyed watching while growing up in New Jersey.
Colton has not only been a part of NHL playoff action, but he has been a highlight-reel of sorts while displaying a knack for scoring big goals during what is all of five-plus series on his postseason resume.
In fact, there likely are many youths who would like to duplicate some of the things the 25-year-old Colton has done.
His goal with four seconds remaining Thursday night gave the Lightning a 2-1 win over the Panthers and a 2-0 series lead. It was the third game-winning goal of Colton’s brief playoff career – again, only five-plus series – and second of these playoffs.
Who could possibly forget his first playoff game-winning goal? It was the only goal in last year’s Game 5 cup-clinching win over Montreal at Amalie Arena. The second was in the aforementioned Game 4 against the Leafs.
“I just try to play my game and I don’t really look at the goals that go in because a lot of them are the work of others players putting (the puck) on my stick,” he said during his press conference Thursday night. “Whenever I come to the rink and I am on the ice, I try to play my game. I try to be physical and be responsible in the (defensive) zone and try to put myself in the right situations in the right spots on the ice.”
Colton’s five playoff goals lead the Lightning. He has nine in his career.
Better late than never: Colton’s goal Thursday night was the second-latest game-winner in Lightning playoff history. Tyler Johnson scored at 19:58 of the third period to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 win over Montreal, and a 3-0 second-round series lead, in 2015.
In addition to Johnson, five others have scored a later game-winning goal in Stanley Cup playoff history. Two were in the final second and officially at 19:59. There was one-tenth of a second on the clock when Nazem Kadri scored to lift Colorado past St. Louis, 2-1, in a 2020 round-robin game in the Edmonton bubble. In 2009, Jussi Jokinen scored with two-tenths of a second remaining in the third period to give Carolina a 4-3 win over the visiting Devils in Game 4 to even their opening-round series.
Hedman equals Leetch: Victor Hedman had the second assist on Corey Perry’s first-period goal Thursday night. It was the 97th point of Hedman’s playoff career, which ties him with Brian Leetch for 15th all-time among defenseman. Next up at 98 points is Scott Niedermayer.
Vasy climbing the charts: With his 55th career playoff victory Thursday, Andrei Vasilevskiy moved past Terry Sawchuk and into 18th place on the all-time list. Game 2 in Sunrise also marked Vasy’s 90th career playoff game. Led by Grant Fuhr’s 66, only five goalies in NHL history have more playoff wins through 90 games than Vasy.
Panthers’ power outage: The Panthers are 0-for-25 on the power play in the playoffs, including 0-for-7 in two games against the Lightning. It is a drought that follows a regular season in which they succeeded 24.4 percent of the time with the man advantage, good for fifth in the league.
Back-to-back at home: Games 3 and 4 will be at Amalie Arena on Sunday afternoon (1:30) and Monday evening (7:00). It will be the sixth time the Lightning will have played on back-to-back days in their playoff history. They are 5-0 on the front end.