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Who is playing dirty: The Panthers or Lightning? How about both

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Panthers lightning dirty
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning go after it during Game 1 of their contentious playoff series which continues Monday night in Sunrise. // Photo by Roger Topalian, 21st Century Photography (561) 488-0000

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper did not use the word ‘dirty’ when talking about his team’s resounding Game 4 win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon. He did not have to.

The Lightning-Panthers series took a turn on Saturday although it was not a big, swooping U-turn across four lanes of traffic.

No, it was just a quick flick of the steering wheel.

This thing has been on the verge of blowing up for weeks now.

The Lightning coach may blame the Panthers and the officials for what happened in the second half of Saturday’s game, but his Tampa Bay team was right in the middle of it.

And has been since this started two weeks ago.

You wanted a true, heated Florida-Tampa Bay rivalry?

Done.

But if the Lightning truly wonders how things got where they are (and it certainly is not), Cooper doesn’t have very far to look.

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