Panthers spank Bolts without their stars

by Gary Shelton on May 9, 2021

in general

Luke Schenn scored the only Lightning goal./ CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 3 a.m.

The chances of the Tampa Bay Lighting repeating last year's Stanley Cup championship are, of course, open to debate.

But after Saturday night, you can be assured of this.

If Victor Hedman doesn't play, the odds go down significantly. Also, if Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta don't play, it's going to be an uphill climb for the Bolts.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

The Lightning was down to a shell of its roster in Sunrise on Saturday and absorbed a 5-1 licking at the hands of the Florida Panthers. The teams will play again Monday night, and the winner will have the home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff game.

Will the gang be back on Monday? Or last least for the playoffs?

“I don’t know," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "I hope so. We’re planning on it. We’ll have to see."

Saturday's game, which featured a hat trick by Alex Wennberg, was a brawling affair in which the teams combined for 146 playoff minutes. With the team scheduled to play up to eight more times (one regular season game and a best-of-seven series), it is easy to wonder if the hard feelings will continue.

“I don’t know," said Cooper. "These are games 55 and 56, not games one and two of the playoffs. I’m sure guys would be a lot more careful than they otherwise would. We’ll have to see. The physicality might be the same, but maybe the recklessness won't be there as much."

The Bolts have some focus to gain. They have given up 10 goals in their last two games, both defeats. For the season, they have given up 28 to the Panthers in seven games.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy gave up five goals on 35 shots Saturday.

The teams wrap up the regular season Monday night in Sunrise. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

Previous post:

Next post: