The Florida Panthers played one of their most complete periods of these playoffs Saturday in Game 4 yet went into the room down two to the host Tampa Bay Lightning.
As good as Florida’s work in the offensive zone was in the first, it was loose play in the defensive one which were the difference.
Tampa Bay took that lead, built on it, and was never really challenged after that opening 20. The Lightning shut things down for a 6-2 win and a commanding lead in this series.
The Panthers head home for Game 5 on Monday night but are on the brink of elimination down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.
Game 5 is set for Monday at 8.
The Panthers are now in a must-win situation.
Well, if they want to keep playing, that is.
To win this series and move on to the second round, the Panthers will have to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in three consecutive games. One more loss for Florida and that’s it.
”When you get behind in the playoffs, you need a short memory,” Anton Stralman said. “You put this game behind you and go on to the next one. This series is not over. We’re excited about coming home and trying to play our best game.”