The Lightning stole an early road win on Tuesday, beating the Florida Panthers 4-1 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Tampa Bay will look to press its advantage on Thursday night, as the Lightning once again visit FLA Live Arena for Game 2.
The Panthers enter Game 2 as a -162 favorite to beat the Lightning (+134) and tie up the series, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Lightning score four unanswered to win Game 1
Florida took an early 1-0 lead on Tuesday, but the Lightning scored four unanswered over the final two periods to take the win. That was the third straight win for Tampa Bay since falling behind 3-2 in their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I think we learned our lesson pretty quick there in round one when we don’t come out and we expected things instead of going out there and making them happen,” Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos told reporters. “We regrouped pretty quick and, when our backs were against the wall, we responded. Last game was a great start to the series for us.”
Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette is well aware that Game 2 is critical for his team. He’ll be looking for more discipline from his players after watching a sloppy Game 1 performance that included 14 penalty minutes. Those penalties led to three Lightning power-play goals.
“They’re a great team and they force you to do the little things right,” Brunette told reporters. “They’re patient enough and smart enough that they wait you out a little bit.”
Cooper expects intensity to build in series
While it may not be quite as heated as the Battle of Alberta, most expected the in-state rivalry to generate some intensity. That wasn’t really the case in Game 1, with both teams hitting a bit less and avoiding any major scuffles. Lightning coach Jon Cooper says that should change as the series goes on.
“When we play each other this often, things get really hyped up, but every single game isn’t going to be the game of the century,” Cooper told reporters. “I expect as every series goes, the longer and deeper they go, the more the intensity builds.”
Cooper will also be looking for Tampa Bay to remain stingy on defense. The Lightning are 29-2 in the playoffs since the 2020 postseason when allowing two goals or less.
“We have a recipe that’s worked for us these past few springs, and these guys have an ability that when it gets tough – and now it’s time to dig your heels in – they do it,” Cooper said. “But it is the play when they don’t have the puck that’s really kind of stabilized us these last couple games.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers will look to test Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy by continuing to get shots on net. They’ll also try to improve on special teams, as they haven’t scored on the power play in 21 opportunities this postseason.
“We’re at a sink a little bit,” Brunette said. “When you have the puck in certain situations you’ve got to make a play and find a way to make a play and we haven’t done that yet.”