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Game One Gameday: Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Graphic design: Francisco Oporta

For the third time in four seasons, the Florida Panthers (52-24-6) will meet its cross-state rival in the playoffs when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning (35-25-6) this afternoon in Game 1 at Amerant Bank Arena. A late season surge pushed the Panthers past the Boston Bruins into first place in the Atlantic Divison to set up another Sunshine State Showdown. The Cats posted its second-highest points total in franchise history on the strength of strong individual performances from Sam Reinhart, who registered a career-high 57 goals and 94 points, Sergei Bobrovsky, Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk, who overcame a slow start to finish the campaign with 88 points. Florida won the season series between the two teams two games to one.

The Lightning enter the postseason in somewhat middling fashion. Since reeling off a five-game winning streak that ran from March 14 to March 21, the Bolts finished the last thirteen games of the campaign with a 7-4-2 record to finish with 98 points. This is the seventh-straight time they have made the postseason. Forward Nikita Kucherov led the league in scoring and established new career-highs in goals (44) and points (144) and became just the fifth player in the NHL history to reach 100 assists in a season. Brayden Point (46) and captain Steven Stamkos (40) also reached the 40-goal. The Lightning boast the league’s most dangerours power play (28.6%), so the Panthers will need to stay out of the penalty box to better their chances for winning the series.

  • WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET
  • WHERE: Amerant Bank Arena – Sunrise, FL
  • ON THE TUBE: Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports SUN, ESPN
  • ON THE DIAL: Radio Libre 790 (D/B), 1230 The Gambler (PB), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
  • SOCIALS: #TimeToHunt, #GoBolts, #TBLvsFLA, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
  • ENEMY INTEL: Raw Charge
  • LAST MEETING: TBL 5, @FLA 3 – (Recap) 3/16/2023
  • NEXT MEETING: Game 2 – April 23, 2024
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Florida: Sergei Bobrovsky Tampa Bay: Andrei Vasilevskiy
  • PLAYER STATS: Florida / Tampa Bay

Sunday in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

  • Washington Capitals at New York Rangers 3 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Colorado Avalance at Winnipeg Jets 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks 10 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday’s games

  • Hurricanes 3, Islanders 1 (Carolina leads series 1-0)
  • Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 1 (Boston leads series 1-0)