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Battle of Florida: Round 2

Alex Walworth | The Scrum Sports

Everything about this rematch of the Battle of Florida between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers was different. Both teams were sporting their retro jerseys. It was a matinee performance with a 4:30 p.m. start. The game was played at Amalie Arena as opposed to the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise like the first game this season between these two teams. Some things don’t change. This is an Atlantic Division rivalry game with two teams who have no love lost for each other. What would transpire in this game today?

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

It was evident from the opening puck drop that this game was a little bit different. Florida was on its horse from the get go. They were buzzing in the Lightning zone for the first few minutes. They were able to get some good looks on Andrei Vasilevskiy who remained solid, keeping everything out of his net. It took a bit before the Lightning’s speed caught up with the Panthers. Once they did, they dominated the time in puck possession. 

Clearly, the ice was shifting in favor of the Lightning. A couple of minutes later they would capitalize on this domination. Almost nine minutes into this opening period, Pat Maroon scored his first goal of the season. Working on his second game on the third line with Anthony Cirelli and Ross Colton has seemed to invigorate the Big Rig. The line was doing its thing cycling the puck in the Panthers zone, creating some very good scoring chances. Would this play lead to a goal? 

There was Cirelli banging bodies in the corner wrestling the puck from two Florida players, he then fed the puck to Maroon who was cruising right in the slot. Maroon wristed the puck past Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and the Lightning were up 1-0 in this rematch. This is how the period ended. The Lightning led the Panthers in shots 19-9. 

Playing the Middle

As well as the Lightning played in the first period, they began the second period with less discipline. Right off the bat about 30 seconds in, Steven Stamkos was called for a penalty. One thing for sure, the Lightning penalty killers were ready for this game. The Panthers struggled to get a good look let alone a decent shot with an extra man.

Good thing the penalty killing units were playing well because the Lightning would go one to commit two more penalties in the first half of the period. The good news? They didn’t allow a goal in any of these three penalties. The bad news? In between the second and third penalties, the Panthers scored an even strength goal. Tie game, did you expect anything different in this rendition of the Battle of Florida?

That might be a little misleading as the last player to touch the puck before it went past Vasilevskiy was Mikhail Sergachev. Florida’s Zac Dalpe sent a Hail Mary shot from the side boards that didn’t even earn a save attempt by Vasilevskiy. Unfortunately, the puck hit off Sergachev and it went past his netminder to tie the game.

Now this game was settling into the match up we anticipated. As the second period came to an end, Sergachev in trying to get the puck out of Tampa’s zone coughed up the puck to Ryan Lomberg. Now, Lomberg went in all alone on Vasilevskiy and Sergachev promptly tripped him for the Lightning’s fourth penalty of the period. Though they still have 30 seconds or so to kill in the third period, the penalty killers were stellar. Can the Lightning penalty kill teams lead the team to victory? How hard fought will this game be? Game is tied 1-1 heading into the final regulation period.

Deciding the Battle of Florida

Sure, the Lightning had to kill the remainder of the Sergachev penalty but true to today’s form, they did and did so emphatically. The game was going back and forth. Tampa would get a chance, then Florida would. Both goalies were playing up to their high standards.

Three minutes into the period, Brayden Point on a nice feed from Nikita Kucherov blew past his defender to the left of Bobrovsky and sniped the puck past the shoulder of the Florida goalie. This was Point’s eighth goal in his last eight games. This gives the Lightning  2-1 lead. Still plenty of time for Florida.

The Final Blows

At a little over seven minutes into the period, Sergachev scored a goal that was challenged. Pierre Edouard Belemare was screening Bobrovsky when he was knocked down by a Florida defender. When Bellemare fell down, he fell on Bobrovsky’s stick. For whatever reason, Bobrovsky continued to lay prone on the ice. The puck slid around to the right point where Sergachev fired it past the prone Florida goalie. With 13 minutes remaining in the game, Lightning led 3-1.

Florida did not throw in the towel. They were working hard to get back within a goal but it was not to be. As the game entered the final five minutes, Stamkos and Alex Killorn found themselves on a 2-0 breakaway. After a great pass by Killorn, Stamkos deked Bobrovsky right out of his jock for the goal that gave us the final score, 4-1.

Three Stars

  1.  Andrei Vasilevskiy – Stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced. Stellar especially early in the game
  2. Penalty Killing Units – Killed all four penalties in basically one period
  3. Steven Stamkos – One goal but kept his point streak alive in the 13th straight game

What’s Next

Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Amalie Arena against the Seattle Kraken.



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