SUNRISE — Florida Panthers coach Andrew Brunette says his team’s power play is going to score one of these days.
He almost guarantees it.
It has to, right?
It had better.
Florida once again did not score with the man advantage in this postseason and it was costly on Tuesday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning took Game 1 with a 4-1 win.
While the Panthers went 0-3 on the power play on Tuesday, the Lightning scored three of its goals on it.
The Panthers had a 1-0 lead in the game until late in the second — with the Lightning scoring three in the third. Two of those goals came on the power play.
Tampa Bay now holds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Game 2 is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Sunrise.
The Panthers found themselves up 1-0 late in the first when Anthony Duclair — who was scratched in Game 6 against Washington — drove in on goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and knocked in a nice pass from Jonathan Huberdeau.
Florida continued to hold that lead until Nikita Kucherov was hooked by MacKenzie Weegar — then fed Corey Perry on a pretty drive around Aaron Ekblad with 3:38 remaining in the second.
The Lightning took its first lead of the night when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare cleaned up a rebound from a Perry shot at 3:35 of the third.
Tampa Bay ended up going 1-5 on the power play, the Kucherov-to-Perry goal getting the Lightning on the board.
Florida was 0-2 in the second period alone and are now 0-21 in the postseason.
The Panthers had numerous scoring chances — and took four shots and had nine attempts in those first two power play opportunities.
On the third, it looked like the Panthers had tied the score when Duclair scored on a loose puck to the side of the net.
It looked to good to be true — Duclair was the only one who went to the puck — and it was.
Tampa Bay challenged that the puck was out of play; video review confirmed the puck hit the netting before returning to ice where Duclair found it.
The Lightning salted this one away when Kucherov scored on the power play with 4:06 left. Florida challenged for goalie interference but did not get it after the league ruled the contact from Anthony Cirelli came outside of the crease.
Ross Colton scored on the ensuing power play to make it 4-1.
Although he did not get one of the FHN stars, Sergei Bobrovsky was really good on Tuesday night — only Vasilevskiy was a little better in stopping 33 shots.
Bobrovsky made 32 saves.
GR’S THREE STARS OF GAME 1
1. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay
2. Corey Perry, Tampa Bay
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING (TB leads 1-0)
- Game 2: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- 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 at Florida (TNT), 7; Game 2: Tampa Bay at Florida, Thursday, 7 (TNT); 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.