TAMPA — The Florida Panthers have been making comebacks all season long. They are desperately in need of another.
Down 2-0 in their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Panthers may just be in their comfort zone.
Even if it really does not feel that way.
“We realize the opportunity in front of us to get it to 2-1 and if we do, then it’s ‘go-time’,” Aaron Ekblad said on Saturday. “We are a resilient group, have been down in games and know how to battle back, how to keep it light and find a way to breathe positivity in that room to give us a chance. …
“You saw New York come back from down 3-1 and that’s even more nerve-wracking so it’s 2-0 and we’re facing adversity. We’re confident we can come out and play a good, strong game. … The fact that we’re resilient is awesome. You love to see it. We’re comfortable because we can be down 2-0 and come into practice today and put our work hats on and go to work.”
The Panthers are now in a position where, to move on to the Eastern Conference final, they need to win four of the final five games in this series.
Three of those games being in Tampa certainly does not make this hill any easier to climb.
Florida is just going the old one-game-at-a-time route.
”It’s playoff hockey and every game is going to be hard whether it is at home or on the road,” Sam Bennett said. “It’s short-term memory. It stung in the moment, but you move on and just look to the next game. That’s really all we can do. We’re a dynamic team and have gone through quite a bit of adversity. It’s just another challenge for us.”
Are the Florida Panthers out of this series? Not by a long shot. Here are some things they need to do to get right back into it.
— The Panthers practiced in a foggy rink on Saturday following a heavy round of rainstorms the night before. After losing Thursday night, the mood seemed to fit.
— Old pals the Checkers and Thunderbirds meet in Round 3 which starts today. The Panthers are obviously familiar with Springfield since it used to be their affiliate until the two split in 2020. This is Florida’s deepest AHL playoff run in as long as I can remember.
— Florida’s Stanley Cup hopes are hanging by a thread.
— Carter Verhaeghe making the most of his opportunities with the Panthers.
— Thursday night’s postgame media sessions are up on the FloridaHockeyNow YouTube channel — if you want to hear from Eetu Luostarinen, Sergei Bobrovsky and Brunette, check it out.
Will also have a special pregame from Tampa (if I can find a place to record) and postgame today.
If you like what you see on the YouTube channel, please subscribe!
There isn’t much of a rivalry between Miami and Tampa. Yeah, we know.
— Anthony Cirelli is a teammate players want to be around.
— The Lightning are not changing much — and why should it?
AROUND THE NHL
Nazem Kadri collides with St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington who leaves the game — and then apparently chucks a water bottle at Kadri while he does his postgame on TNT. Fun night for the Colorado Avalanche.
— Bryan Rust will be staying in Pittsburgh for the long haul.
— Is Bruins team president Cam Neely moving on from coach Bruce Cassidy?
— The Oilers fell behind early but rallied to beat the Calgary Flames in Game 2.
— The Carolina Hurricanes are up 2-0 on the Rangers.
— After leading the Stars to the Cup Final in 2020, Rick Bowness stepped down and his staff was let go as well.
— The relationship between the stars of the Pittsburgh Penguins is pretty deep.
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING (TB leads 2-0)
- Game 3: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
- Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- TV/Streaming: TNT
- Postgame: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING
- Regular season series — Tied 2-2: Florida 4, @Lightning 1 (Oct. 19); @Lightning 3, Florida 2 OT (Nov. 13); @Florida 9, Lightning 3 (Dec 30); Tampa Bay 8, @Florida 4 (April 24).
- All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 73-49-18, 10 ties
- Playoff history: Second meeting; Tampa Bay d. Florida 4-2 in R1, 2021
- Round 1: Florida d. Washington 4-2; Tampa Bay d. Toronto 4-3
- Full schedule — Game 1: Tampa Bay 4, @Florida 1; Game 2: Tampa Bay 2, @Florida 1; Game 3: Florida at Tampa Bay, Sunday, 1:30 (TNT); Game 4: Florida at Tampa Bay, Monday, 7 (TNT); Game 5*: Tampa Bay at Florida, Wednesday, May 25 (Time, TV TBA); Game 6*: Florida at Tampa Bay Lightning, Friday, May 27 (Time, TV TBA); Game 7*: Tampa Bay at Florida, Sunday, May 29 (Time, TV TBA). (*) — If necessary.