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Season ends in a decimating defeat, Panthers snatch series 4-1

For the second season in a row, Tampa Bay faces elimination in the first round in a series that had its share of close games. All series long Panthers physical play and composed defense caused problems for the Lightning. Tonight was no different and that helped Florida finish off the series at home. To add, game 5 became a game that would not be close albeit it began closer than it should have. Lightning looked lost numerous times along with luck never being on their side.  Andrei Vasilevskiy was far from the reason why the team collapsed, and it was instead the inconsistency from the defense that led to the downfall. Sergei Bobrovsky continued to be nearly unbreakable in net and was the difference maker. Trying to steal a win on the road to extend the series was no easy feat and the Panthers reminded us why they have become a playoff threat in the Eastern Conference.


Special teams remained busy

Out of the gate the energy of both teams were on full display. Numerous scrambles occurred in a very physical beginning to the game. Andrei Vasilevskiy was pressured early but kept his composure to prevent Florida from opening up the scoring. Then, Lightning went on the power play with 15:40 left in the period. Panthers were booked for too many men and Tampa looked to captivate on the penalty. However, Lightning came up empty handed, and the game remains scoreless. Despite being short-handed, Panthers registered the only shot on net during that power play. Afterwards, Lightning again went on the power play with just over half the period to go. Again, Panthers penalty kill did a great job disrupting the puck preventing Tampa from getting anything going on the power play.

Opening goal called off

Too many turnovers occurred on the man-advantage which nearly led to short-handed goals for Florida. Soon after, Anthony Cirelli scores and gives Tampa Bay the 1-0 lead. Immediately, Panthers challenged the goal for interference as Anthony Duclair made contact with Bobrovski in the blue paint prior to the puck going in. Ultimately, the call on the ice was overturned and the goal is taken off the board. Panthers then went on the power play for the first time with Mike Eyssimont sent off for roughing. Thankfully, Lightning killed off the penalty and did not give up a shot on goal. In addition, Lightning did not surrender a shot on goal for the remainder of the period as it ended scoreless. Before the period ended Brayden Point and Aaron Ekblad were sent off for roughing.

Panthers take the lead

To begin, 4-on-4 hockey started the period due to the penalties from the tail-end of the first period. Carter Verhaeghe continued to stay hot by burying in his own rebound to give the Panthers the 1-0 lead. Defense failed to cover Verhaeghe and that allowed him to score easily. Next, Panthers would get their second chance on the power play after an interference call on Max Crozier. Penalty kill remained perfect keeping the score 1-0 with almost half the period to go. Penalty kill would have to go back to work with 11:43 left.

Down but not out

Again, Lightning killed off the penalty as neither team continued to fail on the power play. With 8:38 left Tampa Bay would get their turn on the power play and looked to even the score. Disaster continued to strike as Aleksander Barkov scored short-handed to extend the lead 2-0. Action did not stop there as Victor Hedman answered right back to cut the Panthers lead 2-1. It was a shot Bobrovsky had no chance on and that allowed the Bolts to crawl back into the game. Hedman’s goal killed Florida’s momentum and it could not have come any better than there. Another goal from Cirelli was disallowed and it seemed Tampa could not catch a break. Florida received a power play after another failed review but would not score. Period ends with the score remaining 2-1.

Desperation begins

Final frame began and the Lightning were looking for anything to go their way. More than ever the Lightning offense fired on all cylinders with their season on the line. Players had to be smarter with their passes and possession in order to keep the pressure on Florida’s defense. Top lines began to be double shifted with desperation on the horizon. Someone had to come up huge to keep the season alive. Panthers began to play more conservative with a ticket to the second round on their mind.

Decimating end to the season

Intensity picked up with half the period left and Florida soon got some insurance. Barkov scored his second of the game on a broken play to go up 3-1. Momentum was clearly with the Panthers especially with all the energy stemming from the fans in attendance. Time began running out for the Bolts to create a comeback. Ultimately, Panthers would score the dagger as Evan Rodrigues made it 4-1 Panthers with just over five minutes to go. Panthers composure on defense was too much for Tampa to handle and they added an empty net goal with four to go. Panthers added another empty next goal and won the game 6-1. All in all, Panthers took the series 4-1 and ended the season for the Lightning. Many hard decisions loom when free agency begins, but for now it will be a time to rest and prepare for the future.


Three stars of the game

1st star: Sergei Bobrovsky – Saved 31 of 32 shots faced

2nd star: Aleksander Barkov – 2 goals and 1 assist

3rd star: Carter Verhaeghe – 2 goals and 1 assist



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