The Florida Panthers may find themselves in a 1-0 hole to start the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it is not because of Alex Lyon.
The 30-year-old stepped in for his NHL postseason debut against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins and stopped 26 of 29 shots.
It was not pretty at times but he bailed Florida out in plenty of situations.
“He was just so good,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said after the 3-1 loss in Boston.
”That’s the game he’s played for us since he’s come in. His timing on those 2-on-1 plays and his reads have just been fantastic for us.”
Lyon’s night started off on a rough note — allowing a power play goal six minutes in after getting mowed over by teammate Marc Staal — but he quickly settled in afterward.
He introduced himself to the national audience with a sprawling toe save on a Tyler Bertuzzi 2-on-1 chance with 7:15 to go in the first period.
And the Lyon Show was just getting started.
He stopped another rush chance a minute later, this time sliding over to stop the shot with his whole body while sucking up the rebound.
Arguably the lone blunder in Lyon’s game came in the second period.
Brad Marchand caught him slightly out of position and rifled a wrist shot from long range on net.
Lyon was able to get his glove on it and it just trickled in to give Boston a two-goal lead 3:41 into the third period.
He recovered from that miscue nicely.
Five minutes after allowing a goal that had some pundits questioning whether he should start Game 2, he stoned Trent Frederic on another 2-on-1 chance.
This time, he fired the shot from long range off of a cross-ice pass and Lyon sprawled out to stop it with his glove.
It was the save Florida needed to hold Boston’s lead to one-goal after Matthew Tkachuk got them back into it a minute earlier.
But an unlucky bounce did Lyon, and the Panthers, in.
Chaos ensued in front of the net and the puck took an unfortunate bounce away from him as he attempted to cover it up.
It landed on his pad — right for Jacob DeBrusk to poke in — and it was a 3-1 game.
As much as captain Sasha Barkov tried to argue that a whistle should have been blown, it was a free puck and ended up sticking on the board.
And that was the last bit of help Lyon got from his team.
He stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third period — save for one that was swatted out of his glove by Garnet Hathaway and later taken off the board for goaltender interference — and kept the Panthers in it as they attempted to claw their way back into it.
Whether an attempt was even made is up for debate.
But what is not up for debate is Lyon’s status for Game 2.
”He’ll want that second one back but we’re not measuring that as the tell of his game,” Maurice said.
”I’ll give him an A-plus for tonight.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
- When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: TD Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN/ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM/WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: at Boston, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN); Game 3: at Florida, Friday, 7:30 (TNT); Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, April 23, 3:30 (TNT); Game 5*: at Boston, Wednesday, April 26; Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30.