TAMPA, Fla. – The Lightning had two goals negated in the space of 1:55 in the second period, and at one point in the middle period, they were being outshot 29-6.
Yet, thanks to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and a level of pride, will, and determination that cannot possibly be measured, the Lightning found a way to win Game 4, 2-0, at Amalie Arena on Monday night.
In doing so, they swept the Panthers and advance to the Eastern Conference Final, or semifinal as it was simply known during the revamped 2021 postseason, for the sixth time in eight years.
Pat Maroon swatted home a rebound of a Zach Bogosian shot at 6:16 of the third period to give the Lightning all they would need on the scoreboard, and a spot in the NHL’s final four once again.
Ondrej Palat added an empty-net goal with 23 seconds remaining.
Led by Vasilevskiy, who made 49 saves, many of them of the 10-bell variety, in recording the seventh shutout of his playoff career, the Bolts held the Panthers to three goals in the four games.
The win was the Lightning’s sixth straight after falling behind Toronto, 3-2, in the opening round. They are 4-1 at Amalie this playoff year and, dating to last year, have won 10 of their last 11 at home in the postseason.
The Lightning will play the winner of the Hurricanes and Rangers, a series that Carolina leads 2-1 with Game 4 on Tuesday night.