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Hedman scores in OT to give Lightning 3-2 win over Panthers

Victor Hedman scored 54 seconds into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

The Lightning remained tied for first place in the Central Division with Carolina, though the Hurricanes have a game in hand. Florida is one point back.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves for his NHL-leading 26th victory of the season and added an assist. Alex Killorn had a goal and an assist. Ross Colton also scored for Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ross Colton (79) celebrates with teammates after his goal against the Florida Panthers during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Chris Driedger stopped 15 shots for the Panthers. Patric Hornqvist and Anthony Duclair scored for Florida, which has one win in the past four games.

Hedman got his eight goal of the season, sent in on a breakaway by Killorn. Hedman deked Driedger down and slipped the puck inside the post.

Hornqvist put the Panthers in front in the opening period, cutting toward the net on a pass from Alex Wenneberg and slipping a backhand past Vasilevskiy at 15:13.

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) and Florida Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling (42) battle for the puck along the dasher during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

After being outshot 13-4 in the first period, Tampa Bay pushed back in the second and cashed in on the first power-play opportunity of the game. With the Panthers making a change, Vasilevskiy came out of his crease and fed a pass up ice to Killorn for a 2-on-0 rush. Killorn tried to send a pass over to Anthony Cirelli, but the puck went into the net off the stick of Florida defenseman McKenzie Weeger at 13:28.

Florida regained the lead at 7:13 of the third after Lightning forward Yanni Gourde pinched while covering the right point. That sent Jonathan Huberdeau up ice on a 2-on-1, and he spun around to find Duclair for a one-timer.

Tampa Bay answered right back at 9:57 when Mikhail Sergachev found Colton down low on a cross-ice pass for a backdoor tap-in off the pads of Driedger.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) falls down as he gets a shot on Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger (60) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

STAMKOS TO INJURED RESERVE

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed his third consecutive game and was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. Stamkos, who underwent core muscle surgery twice last year, left a game in Columbus last Thursday following a non-contact play.

“I don’t anticipate him for the rest of the week,’’ coach Jon Cooper said. “We’ll get our guys here to work with him a little bit and go from there.’’

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) starts the break ut after getting past Florida Panthers right wing Nikita Gusev (97) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

NEW FACES, NEW PLACES

Florida welcomed newly acquired defenseman Brandon Montour and forward Nikita Gusev to the lineup for the first time. Montour was acquired from Buffalo last Saturday for a third-round draft pick in 2021. Gusev signed as a free agent Sunday after his contract was terminated by New Jersey.

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates his overtime goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Alex Killorn (17) during an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

The teams play again on Saturday.

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Florida Panthers right wing Owen Tippett (74) breaks out after getting around Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) and center Brayden Point (21) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save on a deflection by Florida Panthers right wing Patric Hornqvist (70) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)