Despite playing their best game of the series, and perhaps of the playoffs, the Cats just couldn’t find the back of the net. They peppered Andrei Vasilevskiy with 49 shots, but none went in.
Vasilevskiy blanked the Panthers over the last five periods of the series. An ignominious end for the NHL’s best regular season offense, one that racked up a franchise record 337 goals in 82 games.
A perfect summation of the series came around eight minutes into the second period, when Carter Verhaeghe snapped a wrist shot by Vasilveskiy that caught the left post, rode the cross bar, and then clanked off the right post. Snake-bitten? You betcha ya!
After having two goals correctly waved off in the middle frame, the Lightning scored the decisive goal 6:16 into the third. Zach Bogosian made a nice play to hold the puck in at the blue line, after Joe Thornton failed to clear, and sent a soft shot towards the net that bounced off Sergei Bobrovsky chest and went high in the air. Pat Maroon was able to deflect the puck down to the ice and it went in off a befuddled Bobrovsky’s right skate.
That was the difference. The Panthers couldn’t score and the Bolts come up with a flukey goal after a Cats skater doesn’t get the puck out of the defensive zone.
Florida got a late power play thanks to a delay of game call on Ondrej Palat, and couldn’t capitalize, even after they pulled Bobrovsky to make it a 6 on 4 advantage.
Of course it was Palat who got the empty-netter clincher after he came out of the sin bin.. Because... that’s just the way this series went.
I know people are going to disagree with me, but for most of the series, the Panthers matched the level of the Lightning. What they didn’t do was score or win.
Bill Zito has a lot to think about as he spends the summer trying to figure out a way how to get this team past its cross-state rival, who has now sent the Panthers packing for the second season in a row.
Shock & Awww
- Carter Verhaeghe led the Panthers in goals (6), assists (6) and points (12) during the postseason, and tied with Gustav Forsling (at +7) for the highest overall plus-minus rating.
- Claude Giroux led the Panthers with nine shots on goal, tied for the most in one playoff game in franchise history. Giroux finished the postseason second in team scoring with 8 points. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 of 25 shots faced in Game 4. He started all 10 playoff games for Florida, finishing with a .929 even-strength save percentage. Bon deserved better from his teammates.
- Pat Maroon’s series-winning goal was his second of the postseason, Anthony Cirelli, whose cheat on a second period faceoff resulted in a disallowed goal, had the lone assist on Ondrej Palat’s easy empty-netter.
- Aaron Ekblad logged a team-high 26:20 TOI and registered five shots, two hits and a block.
- For the other side of Game 4 and the series get a morning jolt at Raw Charge.