SUNRISE, Fla. — 10:29 p.m.: The back-and-forth battle comes to an end as the Lightning take Round 1, Game 1 with a 5-4 win over the panthers.
10:25 p.m. Lightning take the lead with just a minute left.
10:12 p.m.: Brayden Point evens things up at 4-4 with seven minutes left in the third period.
9:52 p.m.: The lead changes once again. Panthers lead 4-3.
9:46 p.m.: Panthers tie the game 3-3.
9:13 p.m.: Kucherov does it again. Bolts take the lead 3-2.
8:51 p.m.: Nikita Kucherov ties things up in the second period. Game 1 is once again tied 2-2.
8:17 p.m.: Former Lightning player Carter Verhaeghe makes it 2-1 Panthers.
8:04 p.m.: Aleksander Barkov ties things up for the Panthers. Game 1 tied at 1-1.
7:59 p.m.: Blake Coleman puts the Bolts on the board. Lightning lead Panthers 1-0.
7:43 p.m.: Game on! Bolts vs. Panthers is officially underway.
Game Preview Below:
Playoff hockey is officially upon us and the Lightning are making last-minute preparations for Round 1, Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Panthers Sunday.
The Florida Panthers will open the up to seven-game series with a home-ice advantage over the Bolts at 7:30 p.m. on May 16.
Game 1 will mark the first meeting of the two teams in playoff history. If the series reaches all seven games, it means the Lightning and Panthers will face off for nine games in a row.
And while the Tampa Bay team is the reigning Stanley Cup champs, that doesn't make the road to a repeat any easier.
"We're a different team than last year. The first round is a different beast. I don't care whether you've been in the playoffs for years or haven't been -- it's a different beast," Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper said earlier this week.
Cooper also noted that things are looking good for the return of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos to the ice for Game 1.
The Bolts captain missed the back half of the season due to a lower-body injury, while Kucherov did not play the regular season after having hip surgery.
Defenseman Victor Hedman is also ready for the Florida vs. Florida face-off that will be sure to have fans across the state glued to their TV screens.
"We're very excited to get going. We know we're facing a tough opponent, but this is when the fun times start," he said.
Regardless of the outcome, this year's quest for the Cup will carry a different vibe compared to last year's post-season games where fans watched their teams battle it out in the bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can catch the two-time Stanely Cup champions take on their Sunshine State rival on NBCSN, SN, or TVA Sports. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
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