Nikita Kucherov had two goals and assisted on the game-winning goal in overtime, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves to help the Tampa Bay Lightning take a 3-2 series lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.
It took Tyler Johnson and the Bolts only 0:53 of the overtime period to end the game. Andrej Sustr got the puck in deep to Johnson, who won a puck battle and Ondrej Palat got the loose puck. Palat then spotted Kucherov, who found an open Jason Garrison. Garrison took the shot with Johnson in front and the puck deflected off of him and past Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins took the lead late in the first period. Bryan Rust skated to the net, got the shot off and Vasilevskiy made the initial save. Brian Dumoulin drove to the net and put the loose puck in the back of the Bolts’ net. It was Dumoulin’s first NHL postseason goal. The goal came with only seven tenths of a second remaining on the first period clock.
Patric Hornqvist scored his seventh of the postseason to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead just 1:30 into the second period. Olli Maatta took the point shot, Carl Hagelin deflected the puck right to Hornqvist, who beat a diving Vasilevskiy. The Bolts had some good push-back shifts. Jonathan Drouin had two scoring chances and drew a penalty, which Tampa Bay couldn’t capitalize on. The momentum shifted when Tampa Bay killed off Kucherov’s penalty.
After a great penalty kill, Sustr got the puck around the boards, and Alex Killorn, who was coming off the bench, blasted the puck past Fleury. The Bolts cut the Penguins lead to 2-1. A minute and ten seconds later, Nikita Kucherov took a great pass from Vladislav Namestnikov and beat Fleury to tie the game at two. The Lightning then gave up another late goal with under 0:50 left in the second period. Maatta made a great play to get the puck from his skate to stick, and eventually threw the puck in front of the net. Chris Kunitz was in the right place at the right time and gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead. Pittsburgh was 46-0-0 heading into the third period with the lead throughout the season.
Vasilevskiy made some good saves to keep his team in the game including a nice pad save on Kunitz in close. Kucherov got the puck to Johnson, who took the shot, and the rebound went to Kucherov at the side of the net. Kucherov put the puck in the net after a nice wraparound. It was Kucherov’s league leading 11th goal of the postseason, which tied the game at three.
The Bolts will be looking to close out the series in Game 6 in Tampa, while the Penguins will be looking to force a Game 7.