The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2023-24 season came to an end Monday night with a 6-1 loss in Game 5 of the team’s First Round series against the Florida Panthers.

The Bolts scored the first goal of the contest seven minutes into the first period when Anthony Cirelli jumped on a rebound in front of the net and beat Sergei Bobrovsky to make it a 1-0 game.

But the Panthers challenged for goaltender interference and the goal was overturned with the NHL saying Anthony Duclair impaired Bobrovsky’s ability to play his position in the crease.

Following a scoreless first period, the Panthers opened the scoring at the 45-second mark of the middle frame.

After Brayden Point and Aaron Ekblad were both assessed minor penalties at the end of the opening period, the teams opened the second skating 4-on-4 before Carter Verhaeghe fired a shot on goal, jumped on his own rebound and scored his fourth goal of the playoffs to give Florida a 1-0 lead.

The Panthers put the Bolts in a 2-0 hole at the 12:38 mark of the second period when Aleksander Barkov capitalized on a rebound shorthanded and scored his first goal of the series to double the Florida lead.

With the crowd fully engaged, the Lightning got a big response from Victor Hedman, who hammered a slap shot past Bobrovsky just 59 seconds after the Barkov goal to make it a one-goal game.

Taking a pass from Nikita Kucherov, Hedman walked right down main street and blasted a heavy slap shot right past the ear of Bobrovsky and into the back of the net for his seventh point of the series.

Shortly after, it looked like Tampa Bay tied the game when Mikhail Sergachev fired a perfect shot through traffic that beat Bobrovsky into the top left corner, but was immediately waved off by the official.

The Lightning decided to use its challenge and sent the goal to video review. After review the goal on the ice was upheld with the NHL ruling that Cirelli made incidental contact with Bobrovsky, which impaired his ability to play his position.

There was a light grazing between the skates of Cirelli and Bobrovsky, who immediately dropped his stick after the puck was in the net and did his best to sell the call. Personally, I think that’s a good goal, especially in the postseason, but the NHL disagreed and the Bolts went into the third period in a 2-1 hole.

At the 11:06 mark of the third period, Barkov capitalized on another rebound in front and gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead before Evan Rodrigues scored 3:10 later to extend the advantage to 4-1.

Florida added two empty-net goals over the final four minutes of the game to cap off the 6-1 win and end Tampa Bay’s season.

Bolts by the Numbers

- Victor Hedman scored the Bolts’ lone goal and finished the series with seven points (1-6—7), tied with Nikita Kucherov (0-7—7) for the team lead.

- Nikita Kucherov extended his scoring streak to five games with his seventh assist of the series (0-7—7), the most among all Lightning skaters. Kucherov has lead the Bolts inassists in five consecutive playoffs.

- Brandon Hagel picked up his fifth point of the playoffs with the secondary assist on Hedman’s goal (3-2—5).

Bolts Quotes

- Steven Stamkos: “When you win in the playoffs, you need some bounces. You need some calls. You need a lot of things to go right, and we probably disagreed with some of the calls today in regard to the goals. Those are big momentum shifts in a game and that’s the way it is, but we battled our asses off and that’s a really good hockey team over there and you have to give them credit too. They are a really good team for a reason, and it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

- Jon Cooper on the conversations about the future of Steven Stamkos: “I don’t know if there will be much conversation. I hope not anyway. He belongs here. We know it. He knows it. But, again, this is two seconds after a game. But he and I have grown up together. He’s a heck of a player. But he’s also, I suppose, in control of his own destiny. I don’t know what’s going to happen. He feels like a Bolt for life, but only he and Julien can answer that one.”

Krenner’s Three Stars

1. Aleksander Barkov

2. Carter Verhaeghe

3. Steven Stamkos