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Panthers gear up for extended series against Tampa Bay Lightning

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Panthers at lightning
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning appear headed toward a postseason collision for the first time in their shared history. The next two games (Saturday and Monday) will determine which team gets home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. // Illustration by Alan Bachman

With a few days between games, Joel Quenneville gave his Florida Panthers two days off before returning to practice Thursday morning. The Tampa Bay Lightning were on everyone’s mind.

As it should be.

Not only do the Panthers wrap up their 2021 regular season against the Lightning with two games, but it’s all but certain the two Florida teams will open the Stanley Cup playoffs against one another.

With Carolina getting a point in an overtime loss to Chicago on Thursday, the Panthers now cannot catch the Hurricanes for first place. Tampa Bay still can, but it’s doubtful.

It would be the first time in history that the two Florida teams will meet in the postseason.

If the Panthers and Lightning did not know each other by now, they most certainly will over the course of the next two weeks.

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