The Florida Panthers were the best team in NHL during the regular season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy and finishing 2021-22 campaign as the top seed. However, this didn’t count for much in their Stanley Cup playoffs second-round matchup against the reigning champs Tampa Bay Lightning.
Facing elimination in Game 4, the Panthers were once again unable to match the Lightning’s intensity. After goalless first two periods, Tampa Bay dialed it up in the third and scored twice via Patrick Maroon and Ondrej Palat to take care of business. Interestingly enough, the Panthers became the first top-seeded team to get swept in the postseason since the Lightning experienced the same fate back in 2019.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Florida’s defenseman Aaron Ekblad said via ESPN after the game. “Getting swept is tough. It hurts. It stings. There’s no doubt about it.”
Florida Panthers were an offensive juggernaut in the regular season, scoring an impressive 4.11 goals per game. However, their firepower let them down when it mattered the most. While remaining somewhat prolific in their first-round clash against the Washington Capitals, Florida’s offense fell flat against Tampa Bay. The Panthers just managed to score three goals across the entire series and that is the main reason their postseason ends earlier than expected.
The Lightning became the first team to clinch a Conference Finals spots in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. They now await for the winner of the matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes and NY Rangers to find out their next opponent. At the moment, the Hurricanes are leading the series 2-1.