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The Florida Panthers Had The Tampa Bay Lightning, Then They Didn’t

from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald,

This was the best regular season in club history. But does that make this the best team the Cats have had?

Prove it.

The chance started Sunday night, but ended in a crushing 5-4 home loss to Tampa Bay to begin the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Florida rallied from two deficits to lead 4-3, only to lose Game 1 of this Sunshine State Showdown series in the first round of the postseason, with Game 2 back in Sunrise Tuesday night.

Tampa tied it 4-4 with its third power-play goal of the night, and won it with 1:14 left in regulation. The Panthers’ penalty killing was the deflating factor.

“Five on five we played well,” said Aleksander Barkov. “On the penalty killing we needed to be a little bit better.”

The Cats played with maximum heart. That isn’t enough to beat the reigning league champions.

“It’s a long series. We just have to put it behind us and be fresh for the next one,” said Cats goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. “They have a good team and we have a good team. We just have to forget this one.”

Said second-year coach Joel Quenneville: “A lot of positives. But also things we need to work on.”

Regular seasons don’t mean much now. Here forward is all that matters.

The Panthers are South Florida’s best major team right now; sorry Miami Heat. But the onus was on Florida to prove that it should be nobody’s underdog in these teams’ first-ever postseason meeting.

Sunday was only the 26th home playoff game in Panthers history, and only the 15th since 1996.

It makes this feel like the club’s biggest series in 25 years.

more

Below, watch the game highlights.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Florida Panthers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com