Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Ben Ezra
SUNRISE, Fl. — All good things came to an end for the Florida Panthers on Sunday night. Their franchise-record winning streak found its demise after facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the last game of the season.
The Panthers, who won their 13th consecutive game on Saturday night, struggled going into the third period of Sunday’s game and were not able to recover fast enough, losing their regular-season home finale 8-4 at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida.
Florida went 34-7-0 at home during the regular season, which is pretty impressive.
The Tampa Bay Lightning split the four-game regular-season series with the Panthers and had three isolated leads of two goals. They continued to build on them as the third period progressed.
Tampa Bay led 3-1 during the first period before the Panthers tied it, however, they went into the third period up 5-3.
Overall, Sunday night’s game looked as if the two teams were ready for the regular season to be over to get a head start on the playoffs.
The Lightning opened the scoring with a Nikita Kucherov shot from the right circle on Tampa Bay’s initial shot of the night.
When Claude Giroux drove in and punched the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy, Florida appeared to tie the game. The Lightning disputed the goal, arguing Mason Marchment interfered with Vasi, and it was overturned.
Sam Reinhart got his hands on the goal less than a minute later, making a shot from 40 feet out.
The Lightning made two more goals before Brandon Montour hit a score on a 30-foot shot with 2:32 remaining before the break.
Charging out of the gate, Panthers’ Mason Marchment tied the score 59 seconds in by driving in at full force and poking the puck over Vasilevskiy’s pad.
The Lightning retook the lead on a nice goal from Nick Paul while killing a penalty, and it didn’t take long for the bad blood between both teams to appear as several fights broke out.
Sam Bennett got into one intense scrap, throwing multiple haymakers against Mikhail Sergachev.
With the game about to end, Erik Cernak and Ryan Lomberg got into a pretty food fight with Lomberg. Lomberg skated off the ice while waving to the crowd like usual.
Huberdeau, Marchment, and Lomberg, as well as coach Andrew Brunette, were all shaken up in the final minutes with game misconducts.
On the ice, the Panthers tried to get back into the game within the third but at 3:34, Brayden Point hit one past Sergei Bobrovsky (who had replaced Spencer Knight), to make it a three-goal game.
With 12:56 remaining in the game, Reinhart, who earlier in the game became the Panthers’ fourth player with 30 goals this season, drew Florida within two again on a power play.
After Tampa Bay’s fifth goal, Knight was withdrawn after making 12 saves on 17 shots.
The Lightning now have 106 points and are in sole possession of the third place in the Atlantic Division, therefore ensuring that Florida and Tampa Bay will not meet in the first round of the playoffs.
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Born and raised in South Florida, Krystal is a recent graduate from the University of Miami with professional writing experience at the collegiate and national news outlet levels. She’s a foodie who loves all things travel, the beach, & visiting new places throughout Florida.