27 1/2 years later, the Lightning settle the matter against little brother down state.
Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-2
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 29 shots he faced for the SO victory. He was fantastic tonight, and by securing his first shutout six games into this postseason, he’s signaling he might have some broader shoulders to carry this team than he did last postseason when he didn’t get one until Game Six against Dallas.
6:16 TB Maroon (1), (Johnson, Sergachev)
13:27 TB Stamkos (3), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
14:36 TB Point (4), (Kucherov, Cernak)
18:18 TB Killorn (4), (Cernak, Stamkos)(EN)
For the first time in this playoff series, the Tampa Bay Lightning decided to put forth a 60 minute effort. With the intensity matched, you saw which of these two players has elite level talents. The media was so invested in making Spencer Knight the story and anointing him the second coming. Not-so-fast says Andrei Vasilevskiy. You want to shower praise and affection on Barkov and Huberdeau? That’s adorable. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point just reminded America that you shouldn’t call it a comeback, because they’ve been here for years. Seriously, the second and third goals tonight were a product of the excellence that drips off those three franchise cornerstones: three players who frankly none of the Florida Panthers are fit to carry the jocks of. But it wasn’t just the big guns that brought their intensity level up tonight. You had a hustle play by the admittedly improving Tyler Johnson on Pat Maroon’s game opening tally. You had Barclay Goodrow returning to the ice from injury for the first time in these playoffs and looking as fast and as energetic as I think I’ve ever seen him. It was a total team effort, and one they needed to piece together knowing that bigger challenges lay ahead. Florida’s a difficult opponent because of their unorthodox style, but the teams that the Lightning are likely to encounter as they advance will be far more formidable talent-wise.
On a personal note, I was at the first meeting between these two teams in October of 1993 sitting up in the cheap seats in the 300 level at Thunderdome. I sat through the snooze-fest of the 2-0 loss to that clutch and grab, corner-cutting, trash bag franchise from South Florida and I’ve waited almost 28 years for the pleasure and opportunity to see the Lightning smack little brother around on a playoff stage. In all that time, even though the Lightning have won two Stanley Cups and become one of the NHL’s model franchises, Florida’s never changed. They’re still a corner-cutting, cheating, trash bag franchise. Is there hatred in this rivalry now? Folks, there’s never not been hatred in this rivalry… and I savored the butt kicking that was just administered on Sunrise. Aged to perfection like a fine whiskey, as Bobby Taylor would tell you.
Ross Colton was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 7:55. He was also 75% on four draws.