If Game 1 is any indication of the series to come, the Battle of Florida should be a big one for hockey fans this postseason.  

The Panthers smothered the Lightning in both the offensive and defensive zones throughout most of the first. The hits came fast and the shots were far and few between for the Bolts. But a Brandon Hagel goal broke the rust loose for Tampa Bay to close the frame even.

The physicality remained throughout a scoreless second period in which neither team could capitalize on power play opportunities.

Tampa Bay’s big guns never quite found their groove as the Bolts’ offensive struggles haunted them again in the final frame. And a Carter Verhaeghe power play goal was enough for the Panthers to seal the deal down the stretch.

The Bolts will look to build momentum and steal one on the road Tuesday night in Sunrise.

Scoring Summary

1st Period

FLA 1, TBL 0
6:17 Sam Reinhart (1) – Gustav Forsling, Aleksander Barkov
After a feisty start on both ends of the ice, Sam Reinhart opened the scoring for Florida with a tip-in that rattled just over the glove of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

FLA 1, TBL 1
16:04 Brandon Hagel (1) – Anthony Cirelli, Steven Stamkos
The Bolts finally broke through a staunch Panthers defense thanks to Anthony Cirelli and Brandon Hagel. Hagel was able to corral a Cirelli wrister off the pad of Sergei Bobrovsky to put in the first Lightning goal of the playoffs.

2nd Period


3rd Period

FLA 2, TBL 1
0:58 Carter Verhaeghe (1)– Aleksander Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk - PPG
Aleksander Barkov took advantage of an open lane on the power play to find a sneaky Carter Verhaeghe in front of the net. The Cats started the period 5-on-4 thanks to a Nick Paul hold at the end of the second frame.

FLA 3, TBL 1
17:55 Matthew Tkachuk (1) – Aaron Ekblad – ENG
The Bolts pulled the Big Cat with three minutes left to play, but the man-advantage was thwarted quickly with the empty-netter from Tkachuck from distance.

FLA 3, TBL 2
19:51 Steven Stamkos (1) – Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point – PPG
A faint glimmer of hope arrived at the final hour for the Lightning, as Nikita Kucherov connected with Steven Stamkos, who fired a perfect shot top-shelf over Bobrovsky. It wasn’t enough to catch the Cats, but it left the Bolts on a positive note heading into Game 2.