The building was loud and the action intense with post-whistle scrums, head changes, breakaway goals, returning stars, elite goalkeepers making clutch saves, players diving into the shooting lanes to block shots, tight shots and more.
The first game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers in the first round of the Stanley Cup on Sunday had all the perks for exactly what it was, exactly what we’ve been missing for so long, a hockey feast. in the playoffs with excitement both on the ice and in the crowd of 9,646.
The Lightning, the No.3 seed in the Discover Central Division, took the lead early on, winning 5-4 over the No.2 Panthers on forward Brayden Pointbreakaway goal with 1:14 remaining in the third period in Florida’s best-of-seven NHL playoff series 1.
The second game will take place on Tuesday. There is a lot to experience.
âIt was quite a hockey game, two great teams came in,â said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “That’s why it’s the greatest sport in the world. We just saw why, this show from these two teams.”
Video: Point elevates Lightning to wild Game 1 win over Panthers
There have been four header changes in a game for the fourth time in NHL playoff history. There were 17 penalties totaling 34 minutes, including five corresponding minors creating 4v4 situations. The Lightning had 40 shots, with the Panthers goaltender Sergey Bobrovsky stop 35. Goalkeeper Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy also made 35 saves, but faced one less shot.
âVery intense game,â said Panthers coach Joel Quenneville.
Lightning ahead Nikita Kucherov scored two goals and assisted, all on a power play, in his first game in seven and a half months. Kucherov didn’t play the entire regular season as he recovered from hip surgery he had on December 29.
Cooper said the Lightning initially didn’t expect him until maybe the second round, if that.
In the first game, he shot twice in the right circle on the defender’s passes. Victor hedman (three assists) and delivered a one-timer pass from the right circle to Point for the tying goal at 1:00 p.m. of the third.
The difference he made was not only noticeable, it was tangible.
âTo sit that long and have a repair and go through all this rehab and come out tonight in a very fast and physical game and perform like he did, it’s amazing,â Point said. “But he’s a world-class player and we’re just happy to have him back.”
The Panthers came out with the intention of being physical. They generated 20 hits to go with their 18 shots on goal in the first period. They finished with a 54-36 lead in hits, fueling excitement in the building with their energy on the ice.
“It was amazing,” said Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, who scored a goal and got an assist. âI had goosebumps before the game during the anthem. It was so nice. You want that to happen in every game and we’re going to do our best on the ice. Lots of support from our fans. We love it, we love it, and we want to keep going. “
Video: TBL @ FLA, Gm1: Kucherov gives Lightning’s Game 1 victory
Quenneville said he actually had the challenge of putting everyone on the bench to hear what he was saying, especially as the Panthers came back from 1-0 and 3-2 to take the lead each time. time.
The Lightning has responded each time as the reigning Cup champion team.
âWe’re comfortable playing in these types of games and I think we’re going to see it a lot,â Lightning said forward. Steven stamkos mentionned. “It’s a [heck] of a team there. “
Everything that happened, from the opening showdown to the final buzzer on Sunday, has met or exceeded expectations for what this one-of-a-kind series could be.
It has undoubtedly fueled more discussion and anticipation about how this all-Florida showdown is no longer just a geographic rivalry.
It’s a real one, now finally with playoff bumps, bruises, passion and hostility, with more to come.
âI don’t think this will be the last time we see these guys in the playoffs, but from now on it sure looks like [a rivalry] with how many games we’ve played against them in the home stretch and now in the playoffs, “said Stamkos.” It’s a great hockey team and so are we. If the first game was any indication, it would be a great streak, a long streak. “