Now that the Florida Panthers have gone farther in the playoffs since their 1996 Stanley Cup Finals run, they get into what might well be the best “Battle of Florida” ever.
The Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning have played in the playoffs before, of course. Just last year, the Lightning knocked the Panthers out in the first round in six games.
Last year’s series was the first time the two Florida-based teams had met in the postseason. But with an Eastern Conference Final berth on the line, the stakes are a lot higher.
Behind two overtime victories, the Panthers took out the Washington Capitals in six games. In Game 6, Carter Verhaeghe scored his sixth goal of the series to finish off Washington, 4-3. Verhaeghe was wide-open in front of the net after a pinpoint pass from veteran Claude Giroux. Giroux, who arrived in a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline, has proven massively valuable in the postseason so far, with three goals and four assists.
The Lightning also had a tight series, edging out the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games. Tampa Bay fell behind in that series 3-2 but came back with one-goal wins in games 6 and 7. In Game 7, Nicholas Paul scored both goal in the Lightning’s 2-1 win, while goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy came up with 30 saves to keep Toronto silent.
Lightning will take the series:Why the Tampa Bay Lightning will beat the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Nope, Panthers are winning this:Why the Florida Panthers will beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
TV: TNT (Channel 245 on DirecTV, Channel 138 on Dish Network); YouTube TV (2-week free trial), Hulu + Live TV (7-day free trial), fuboTV (7-day free trial)
Live stream: NHL.com
Radio: WQAM (Panthers); 970 WFLA (Lightning)