The Florida Panthers have been swept out of the NHL postseason, falling 2-0 to host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Sport 4 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff collection on Monday.
Florida was the NHL’s top-seeded crew coming into the playoffs, having earned the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy title on the energy of a 122-point marketing campaign. The Panthers are actually the primary Presidents’ Trophy winners to be swept from a playoff collection because the 2019 Lightning had been ousted by Columbus within the first spherical.
“It’s a troublesome capsule to swallow,” Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad stated. “Getting swept is hard. It hurts. It stings. There’s little doubt about it.”
Sport 4 was a scoreless affair many of the means, till left winger Patrick Maroon tipped a degree blast from Zach Bogosian previous Sergei Bobrovsky within the third interval. Ondrej Palat added an empty-netter within the ultimate minute to seal Florida’s destiny.
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The Panthers constructed their historic common season on offensive success, pacing the NHL in common scoring (4.11 objectives per sport) due to enviable depth upfront. They weren’t shut out as soon as by means of 82 video games. The truth is, the final time Florida didn’t rating a objective in a sport previous to Monday was Sport 6 of their first-round collection towards Tampa final spring.
However all that firepower failed Florida when it mattered most.
The Panthers stumbled their well past Washington within the first spherical, successful in six video games however requiring a number of come-from-behind performances to take action. That effort wouldn’t suffice towards reigning two-time Cup champion Tampa Bay.
Florida didn’t rating a couple of objective in any of the 4 video games towards Tampa Bay. All of the Panthers’ high performers repeatedly got here up empty. Jonathan Huberdeau was one in all 4 30-plus objective scorers within the Panthers’ common season and led the crew with 115 factors. He added solely two assists towards Tampa. Aleksander Barkov and Claude Giroux tallied one help every. Sam Reinhart recorded a single objective, and it was the one one Florida scored on the facility play all the postseason.
The Panthers completed their postseason 1-for-31 on the person benefit.
“Particular groups for me was a problem,” stated interim coach Andrew Brunette. “I take a variety of blame for the facility play, that was my fault. Needs to be higher, needs to be higher. Actually dissatisfied in myself for that.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy was spectacular for Tampa Bay in web, giving up solely three objectives in 4 video games. He made 49 saves on Monday evening.
In his final seven series-clinching video games, Vasilevskiy has made 199 saves on 200 pictures and recorded six shutouts.
Additionally spectacular was Tampa accomplished its sweep of Florida with out high ahead Brayden Level, who’s been sidelined by harm since Sport 6 of the Lightning’s first-round collection towards Toronto.
“They’re Stanley Cup champions for a cause,” stated Brunette. “[They grew] from a high-flying offensive crew and caught with it. We aspire to be them.”
Bobrovsky repeatedly gave the Panthers an opportunity to recuperate, although, not solely in Sport 4 however all through the collection. He registered a strong .908 SV% over the primary three video games and turned apart 23 pictures making an attempt to stave off elimination on Monday.
The Panthers simply couldn’t present him any assist.
“I feel it was our greatest sport this collection,” stated Barkov of Sport 4. “But it surely wasn’t sufficient.”
Florida even caught a pair breaks with two Tampa objectives being disallowed within the second interval.
The primary evaluation took over 10 minutes, because the NHL’s state of affairs room in Toronto tried to discern whether or not the puck had hit mesh previous to Lightning ahead Alex Killorn’s ice-breaking objective. Lastly, a ruling got here down that the puck had exited the floor of play. No objective for Tampa Bay.
The second evaluation occurred simply minutes later. Nikita Kucherov snapped a wrister previous Bobrovsky, however Florida challenged for a hand cross by Anthony Cirelli off the draw. It took lower than two minutes for the decision — no objective.
The Panthers couldn’t muster any objectives of their very own, and now they’ll face a protracted spring and summer time forward to look at what despatched their postseason off the rails.
“I like this crew,” stated Brunette, whose personal future in Florida continues to be in flux. “In fact I’d like to [come back] however these should not actually my choices. I like this crew, I like the group, I imagine in it. I imagine in them.”
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