Lightning shutout Panthers in series clinching win

The Tampa Bay Lightning played their best game of the postseason on Wednesday night, ending their series with the Panthers with a 4-0 shout-out win.

The Lightning will advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs for just the eighth time in their history.

This was the first time these two hockey rivals in the sunshine state have met in the first playoffs, and it did not disappoint. There will also be another first in the second round as the Lightning will play either Carolina or Nashville. The Bolts have never played either of these teams in the playoffs.

With last year’s playoff games played in Canada, this was the first series-clinching win on home ice for the Lightning since the 2018 season.

This was the kind of defensive effort that propelled the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Championship last season.

The Panthers were hoping that the 20-year-old rookie goaltender Spencer Knight would repeat his game five performance, but it was not to be.

Pat Maroon got the Lightning on the board early in the first period, and that is all the Bolts would need as Andrei Vasilevskiy was outstanding in the nets in the 4-0 shutout win. Vasilevskiy made 29 saves in the win and was my first star of the game.

This was Vasilevskiy’s second career playoff shutout.

Another key to victory tonight was the composure of the Lightning. The Bolts managed to stay out of the penalty box until late in the second period. Both teams kept their emotions in check as only four penalties were called all night—two on each team.

In addition to Maroon, Steven Stamkos, Braydon Point, and Alex Killorn all tallied goals for the Lightning in the series-clinching win.

Give coach Jon Cooper credit for making the defensive and line-up adjustments needed to shift down the high-powered Panthers attack.

Barclay Goodrow was back for the Lightning tonight after missing the first five games of the series with an injury.

It’s no coincidence that the return of Goodrow coincided with the Lightning playing their best 60 minutes of hockey this postseason. Goodrow is a gritty forward that will do whatever it takes to help his team win.

From blocking shots to delivering a hit to dropping the gloves, Goodrow is a guy you love to have on your team during the playoffs.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos talked about the total 60-minute effort tonight against the Panthers. Stamkos said that this was the best effort by far in the biggest game of the postseason. Stamkos went on to say that’s the hallmark of a championship team, saying, “It was great to be part of that effort tonight.”

The Panthers are a good team and will be a team to be reckoned with for years to come.

Florida finally looks like they have their goaltender of the future in Spencer Knight. Knight went 5–1 for the Panthers this season, including the playoffs.

Nikita Kucherov was back in action for the first time in eight months, and it looked as if he had played all season. Kucherov, who led the NHL in postseason scoring last season with 35 points, had three goals and six assists in the first-round series and is second in the NHL in scoring this postseason.

Now the Lightning awaits the outcome of the Carolina-Nashville series. Carolina leads the series three games to two with game six in Nashville Thursday night.

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