(1A) Florida Panthers vs. (3A) Tampa Bay Lightning
panthers: 58-18-6, 122 points; 4-2 to win the first round against the Washington Capitals
Flash of lightning: 51-23-8, 110 points; 4-3 to win the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs
Season series: FLA 2-1-1; TBL 2-2-0
Game 1: Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the Sunshine State rivalry to the next level when they meet in the Eastern Conference Second Round.
The Lightning and Panthers met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup first round last season. Tampa Bay won in six games in a series where the teams combined for 41 goals and won the Stanley Cup for the second straight season.
Now the Lightning are on the hunt to become the first team to win the Cup in three straight seasons since the New York Islanders’ four-straight championship streak from 1980-1983. After coming back from a 3-2 deficit in the series to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, Tampa Bay will face another tough challenge against Florida, which won the Presidents Trophy as the NHL regular season points leader.
“That’s when things get interesting and rivalries are born when you play teams multiple times in the playoffs,” Captain Lightning Steven Stammos saying. “Our division was crazy this year. We beat a team like Toronto, which was one of the top five teams in the league, and then we got the best team in the league in the regular season in the second round.”
[RELATED: Complete Panthers vs. Lightning series coverage]
The Panthers are brimming with confidence after defeating the Washington Capitals in six games in the first round for their first playoff series victory since reaching the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, where they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche. With that weight off their shoulders, the Panthers will look to take another step against the two-time defending champions.
“Obviously our goal is to keep moving forward with more series,” Panthers forward. claude giroux saying. “The first step is done now. We go ahead and turn the page and focus on the second round now.”
panthers: Carter Verhaeghe had a first round to remember, outshining big-name teammates like Alexander Barkov, jonathan huberdeauGiroux and Aaron Eckblad by setting Panthers playoff records with six goals and 12 points in six games against the Capitals. The forward scored two goals, including the overtime winner, in Game 4, scored five points (two goals, three assists), including the game-winner, in Game 5 and scored another overtime winner and had a assist in Game 6.
Flash of lightning: Nikita Kucherov led the Lightning with eight points (two goals, six assists) in the first round, including the 5-on-3 tying goal in the third period of their 4-3 overtime victory in Game 6. Kucherov led the league with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) in 23 playoff games last season and is fourth among active players with 135 points (46 goals, 89 assists) in 120 playoff games. That includes 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in six games against Florida last postseason.
Video: [email protected], Gm5: Verhaeghe drives forward pass
panthers: Sergei Bobrovsky he was solid and made timely saves in the first round, finishing with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage to win the second postseason series when he played more than two games in his 12 NHL seasons ( nine seasons in the playoffs). Bobrovsky went 39-7-3 with a 2.67 GAA, .913 save percentage and three shutouts during the regular season. rookie backup spencer knight he did not play against the Capitals, but started the final two games of the series against the Lightning last season, including a 36-save performance in a 4-1 win in Game 5.
Flash of lightning: Andrey Vasilyevsky he has played every minute of every playoff game for Tampa Bay during their nine-game series win streak. Vasilevskiy’s numbers were pedestrian in the first round (3.04 GAA, .897 save percentage), but he further strengthened his big-game resume by making 30 saves in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 Game 7 victory against Toronto on Saturday. Vasilevskiy went 39-18-5 with a 2.49 GAA, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts during the regular season. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy voted most valuable player in the playoffs last season when he went 16-7 with a 1.99 GAA, .937 save percentage and five shutouts.
numbers to know
panthers: Florida went 0-for-18 on the power play against Washington and became the ninth team in NHL history to win a best-of-7 series without scoring a power play goal. After leading the league with 29 comeback wins during the regular season, the Panthers rallied to win their last three games in the first round. Huberdeau led Florida with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in six games against Tampa Bay in the series last season.
Flash of lightning: Tampa Bay is 17-0 in playoff games following losses since the start of the 2020 postseason. The Lightning went 8-for-20 (40 percent) on the power play against the Panthers in their series last season. Tampa Bay was 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) with man advantage against Toronto.
panthers: Ekblad seemed to find his legs and his rhythm as the first round wore on after the defenseman missed the last 20 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. Ekblad had five points (one goal, four assists) in the six games against Washington and his skating and passing skills were key to starting Florida’s quick transition game.
Flash of lightning: Forward Nicholas Paul scored the first two goals of his NHL playoff career in Game 7 against Toronto and could be more important against Florida with brayden point‘s condition is uncertain after suffering an apparent lower body injury on Saturday. Paul had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 21 regular-season games with the Lightning after being acquired in a trade from the Ottawa Senators on March 20.
Video: [email protected], Gm7: Paul beats Campbell for his second goal
they said it
“People say ‘Comeback Cats,’ and I’m not sure that’s what I see. I see a bunch of guys get hit and don’t fall off and then they start hitting back.” — Panthers coach Andrew Brunette
“We saw them a lot last year and every time we play them it’s obviously a tough test. Watching them against the Capitals, that series could have gone either way. We know what to expect from them. It’s probably going to be routine.” .” — Lightning ahead rosscolton
You will win if…
panthers: Bobrovsky continues to make timely saves, Huberdeau bursts in after a quiet first round (one goal, two assists) and they have better starts. Comebacks are the Panthers’ specialty, but chasing games is generally not a model for long playoff runs.
Flash of lightning: Playing team defense like they did in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs (26 blocked shots), Vasilevskiy is continuing his important style of play and not running out of fuel after playing in 55 playoff games in the last three postseasons. But Point’s injury is a concern.
how they look
Panthers projected lineup
Carter Verhaeghe, Aleksander Barkov, Claude Giroux
Jonathan Huberdeau- sam bennett — sam reinhart
maxi mamin — anton lundell — Noël Acciari
ryan lomberg — Eetu Luostarinen — Patric Hornqvist
Ben Chiarot — Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling — mackenzie weegar
Brandon Montur — Radko Gudas
Lined: anthony duclair, petteri lindbohm, joe thornton, lucas carlson, Robert Hagg, jonas johansson
Injured: masons march (lower body), Markus Nutivaara (not revealed)
Projected Lightning Alignment
Palate of Ondrej — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
antonio cirelli — Brayden Point — alex killorn
Brandon Hagel –Nicholas Paul-Ross Colton
garnet pat — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — corey perry
Victor Hedman — Erik Cernak
ryan macdonagh — Zach Bogosian
mikhail sergachev — foot of lime
Lined: Riley Nash, Jan Rutta