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Stamkos, Kucherov lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-0 game lead over the Panthers

Man wearing hockey goalie uniform and holding a stick blocks a puck trying to go into a net
Chris O'Meara
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save on a shot by Florida Panthers during the third period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. Panthers' Sam Reinhart (13) looks for a rebound. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

With a win Monday night at Tampa's Amalie Arena, the Lightning could win the series and head to the Eastern Conference finals.

Steven Stamkos scored two goals and Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 to move to the brink of another trip to the Eastern Conference final.

Reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed only one goal Sunday, the fourth-straight game he's done so. He finished the game with 34 saves, including all 27 shots he faced in the second and third periods.

Corey Perry and Erik Cernak also scored, to help the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Panthers, who had the NHL’s best record during the regular season.

Panthers Lightning Hockey Cernak goal 052222
Chris O'Meara
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) watches his shot get past Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for a goal during the second period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. Looking on is Panthers' Claude Giroux (28). (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The Lightning said that prior to Sunday's game, the Bolts had won four-straight games since falling behind 3-2 in their First Round series vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sunday's win is the Lightning's first five-game playoff win streak since closing out a 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinal vs. the Boston Briuns with three wins and then beating the New York Islanders twice to start the Eastern Conference final.

Game 4 against the Panthers is Monday night at 7 p.m. at Amalie Arena. It's a rare situation where playoff games are played back-to-back.

The Florida Panthers, who won the Presidents' Trophy in the regular season, don't have any time to regroup with Game 4 set for Monday night.

An arena conflict in Tampa caused by a concert forced a rare postseason back to back. The Panthers are trying to frame it as a benefit of not dwelling on their predicament.

But coming back from down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series has only happened four times in NHL history. Out West, the Colorado Avalanche lead the St. Louis Blues 2-1 going into Game 4.

One more victory will send Tampa Bay to the Eastern Conference final for the sixth time in eight years.

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