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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bobrovsky Made A Memorable Save. That’s Not Why the Lightning Lost



Matthew Tkachuk and Anthony Stolarz celebrate the Florida Panthers’ 3-2 overtime victory with Sergei Bobrovsky on Tuesday night in Sunrise. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — On Wednesday afternoon, Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he did not have to search out the magnificent save Sergei Bobrovsky made the night before against Matt Dumba of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s just everywhere,” Maurice quipped. “You can’t open your computer, turn on the TV without seeing it ten times.’’

By now, the entire sporting world has seen Bobrovsky’s sprawling save from Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Lightning in Game 2.

At the time of ‘The Save’ — it came at 14:02 of the second period — the game was tied at 2.

Tampa Bay had erased a 2-0 deficit earlier in the period.

Had Bobrovsky not stopped Dumba’s attempt into a yawning net, momentum may have stayed with Tampa Bay.

That save was the focus of discussion in both rooms following the game.

When asked how he rated it among those he had seen before, Maurice called it “top ten playoff for sure. That was impressive.”

Maurice admitted that he didn’t get the best view from the bench along the ice.

To this long-time hockey observer, it was a reminder of some of Dominik Hasek’s unorthodox saves.

Bobrovsky didn’t remember the details leading up to the save but said he was behind the play.

“It was desperation,” he said. “I tried to throw as much body ss as possible. I was able to make a save.”

Had Dumba just tapped the puck along the ice, he likely would have scored, and the game’s complexion might have changed.

Bobrovsky guessed right and blocked the shot with his arm at mid-goal height.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper complimented Bobrovsky but didn’t want anyone to overlook that his guy in the net made some dandy saves himself.

“You’re looking at two of the best,” Cooper said. “To sit here and be on the biggest stage in the greatest league in the world and then watch two guys like that go toe-to-toe … I know I’m the coach of one of the teams, but you kind of marvel at some of the saves that were made.

“Bob didn’t quit on it. It’s probably more on us than him, but you’ve got to tip your hat to him.”

Cooper added, “It was a pretty sparkling performance by both guys.”

Said Steven Stamkos: “Call it skill, call it luck, call it whatever you want. He’s an athletic goalie, and he makes a desperate move. A hell of a save. Vas made some great saves, too. I thought both goalies played outstanding tonight. One had a little more action than the other. Both made some really quality saves. That was a big save in that moment of the game. Great goalies make saves like that. Unfortunately, we were on the other end of it.”

Memorable save aside, the Lightning lost for a multitude of other reasons.

For starters, it once again could not generate offense in an opening period in which Florida had a 13-3 advantage.

In Game 1, the Lightning faced a similar disadvantage, going close to 16 minutes in the first without generating a shot on goal.

The Lightning managed only two shots on goal when it had a man advantage for four minutes in the third period after Eetu Luostarinen got a double minor for high-sticking Erik Cernak.

Tampa Bay generated only five shots in the third and none in the overtime, which looked disorganized.

The Lightning has now lost 11 of its past 12 playoff games, including six straight that went to overtime.

One of the best features of playoff hockey is that you get to do it all over again in a couple of days. Comebacks are not unusual.

Cooper reminded everyone that his team was out of a playoff spot earlier this season and rallied to make it.

The Lightning can come back against the Panthers, but it will not come easy.

“A month and a half ago, we were looking up at a whole bunch of teams ahead of us in the playoffs, and we were out,” Cooper said.

“The group dug their heels in and passed all these teams that are now out of the playoffs to get in. So, there’s a ton of resiliency in that group.”

Thursday, we start all over again.

The Panthers, up 2-0 in this best-of-7 series, are fine right where they are.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa 
  • Local TV/National TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/TBS/HBOMax
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • First Round (Panthers Lead 1-0) — Game 1: Panthers 3, Lightning 2; Game 2: Florida 3, Tampa Bay 2 OT; Game 3: Thursday at Tampa Bay, 7 (BSF, TBS); Game 4: Saturday at Tampa Bay, 5 (BSF, TBS, TruTV); Game 5*: Monday at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 6*: Wednesday at Tampa Bay, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 7*: Saturday May 4 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA). (*) — If necessary
  • 2023-24 Regular Season Series (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Panthers 9, Lightning 2 (Feb. 17). At Florida: Lightning 5, Panthers 3 (March 16).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 77-51-19, 10 ties
  • All-Time Postgame Series: Lightning Leads 2-0 (2021 first-round, 2022 ECS)

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