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Sports Intensity from the outset in Sunshine State playoff series

00:50  18 may  2021
00:50  18 may  2021 Source:   thecanadianpress.com

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The first-ever playoff game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers could be tough to top. Or perhaps it's just a taste of what's to come in their opening-round Sunshine State series . Adding to the intensity was a raucous crowd of 9,646, with the Panthers doubling their capacity for the playoffs . Lightning star Nikita Kucherov scored two power- play goals after missing the entire regular season because of a hip injury. Also returning from injuries for Tampa Bay were Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman, who had three assists.

SUNSHINE , Fla. / AP — The defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Florida Panthers for the first time in the postseason on Sunday night. Florida was second in the Central Division, Tampa Bay was third. The Panthers went 5-2-1 against the Lightning in the regular season, though that seems irrelevant given that Tampa Bay’s lineup will be It’s not just Kucherov returning: The Lightning are also expecting Steven Stamkos back for this series . He hasn’t played since April 8 with a lower-body injury. “We haven’t had our full team,” Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh said.

The first-ever playoff game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers could be tough to top.

a hockey game in the snow © Provided by The Canadian Press

Or perhaps it's just a taste of what's to come in their opening-round Sunshine State series. The defending champion Lightning take a 1-0 lead into Game 2 Tuesday night (8 p.m. EDT, CNBC) in Sunrise, Florida.

The intrastate foes — they've never really been rivals — have met 142 times in the regular season, including eight games this season. But they'd never faced off in the playoffs until Sunday, when the Lightning won a physical, dramatic thriller, 5-4.

“Very intense game," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “There was a lot going on out there.”

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There have been Sunshine State playoff showdowns in other sports — the Miami Dolphins lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL playoffs after the 1999 season, and the Miami Heat beat the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 1997 NBA playoffs . Stay informed daily on the latest news and advice on COVID-19 from the editors at U.S. News & World Report.

“His guys play really hard,” Cooper said. “He knows what he wants in a player (and) knows how to get it out of them.” The Tampa Bay-Florida series is one of two first-round matchups featuring two Cup-winning coaches. The other is Pittsburgh against the New York Islanders, with Penguins coach Mike Florida will join California, New York and Pennsylvania as states that have had an in- state NHL playoff series . There have been Sunshine State playoff showdowns in other sports — the Miami Dolphins lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL playoffs after the 1999 season, and the Miami Heat beat the

Also trying to rally from 1-0 deficits at home Tuesday will be the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New York Islanders, and the Vegas Golden Knights against the Minnesota Wild.

The Lightning-Panthers game was only the fourth in NHL playoff history to have four lead changes. Is there more of the same to come?

“It was certainly exciting to be a part of," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “I don’t think both teams want to play 5-4 hockey the whole playoffs.”

Adding to the intensity was a raucous crowd of 9,646, with the Panthers doubling their capacity for the playoffs.

Lightning star Nikita Kucherov scored two power-play goals after missing the entire regular season because of a hip injury. Also returning from injuries for Tampa Bay were Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman, who had three assists.

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He hasn’t played since April 8 with a lower-body injury. “We haven’t had our full team,” Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. They do now. So, all the principals on both sides, except for Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad, seem as if they will be ready for Game 1. “This is all I play for, the Florida will join California, New York and Pennsylvania as states that have had an in- state NHL playoff series . There have been Sunshine State playoff showdowns in other sports — the Miami Dolphins lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL playoffs after the 1999 season, and the Miami Heat beat the Orlando

Playoff darlings from last year like the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks battled through injuries, underwhelming performances and a schedule impacted by the pandemic, but couldn't make the cut. Sixteen teams managed to emerge from the most untraditional of NHL seasons. Since the North Division spans the entirety of Canada, the NHL dumped the Eastern and Western Conferences for this season, and with them the wild-card format it has used in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the past decade. The playoffs are divisionally based: The top seed plays the No. 4 seed and the Nos.

But then, coming back in the postseason is what the defending champs do. In Game 1, they rallied from deficits of 2-1 and 4-3.

“We talked about composure," Stamkos said. "That was the theme of last year’s run. The game is never over. So many things can happen, you just stick with it. We’re comfortable playing in these types of games.”

The Lightning's offensive outburst included three power-play goals and one short-handed. Quenneville must now decide whether to stick with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky or switch to Chris Driedger, who had a 2.07 goals-against average in 23 regular-season games.

The Panthers will be without forward Sam Bennett, suspended for one game for boarding Lightning forward Blake Coleman during Game 1.


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WILD vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS, Minnesota leads series 1-0 (10 p.m. EDT, NBC Sports Network)

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Their first-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators offers the chance to maintain that upward trajectory — or suffer the first significant stumble of that three-season climb. The teams open their series Monday, with the Hurricanes facing heightened expectations after winning the Central Division for their first division crown since hoisting the Stanley “So we’ve been playing like that and like you said, there’s got to be another level. Playoffs always brings out the best in everybody and the intensity and the passion in the game. I think everyone’s level, both teams, will be raised even more.”

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith says his side lacked the " intensity and quality" they showed in the first half after they twice surrendered a lead to lose 3-2 at Crystal Palace.

In Las Vegas, Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer is searching for offense. His team was without injured leading scorer Max Pacioretty for a seventh consecutive game Sunday, and Vegas lost 1-0 in overtime despite a 42-30 advantage in shots on goal.

Playing for the first time since April 24, Tomas Nosek was inserted into the Golden Knights’ top line, but replaced in the second period.

“In his defense, he hasn’t played in a month and hasn’t skated a lot,” DeBoer said. “I thought he gave us a good period and change of some energy. I thought as we got into the second period, that line needed a little more juice."

The Golden Knights will be desperate for a win before the series moves to Minnesota, where their record is 0-6-2.

“We’ve got to find ways to score,” Vegas captain Mark Stone said. “It’s not just finding those dirty areas. You’ve got to find loose pucks. We’ve got to make plays. You can’t just rely on taking 40, 45 shots.”

ISLANDERS vs. PENGUINS, New York leads series 1-0 (7:30 p.m. EDT, NBC Sports Network)

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The Penguins could receive reinforcements as they try to even their series with the Islanders. Center Evgeni Malkin, who sat out New York’s 4-3 overtime win in the opener with an undisclosed injury, skated on Monday and will be a game-time decision.

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  Hurricanes, Preds set to open first-round playoff series RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes have gone from being mired in a nearly decade-long playoff drought to a division champion armed with postseason experience and success. Their first-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators offers the chance to maintain that upward trajectory — or suffer the first significant stumble of that three-season climb. The teams open their series Monday, with the Hurricanes facing heightened expectations after winning the Central Division for their first division crown since hoisting the Stanley Cup 15 years ago. They were in the hunt for the Presidents' Trophy until the season's final week.

Pittsburgh’s biggest issue in Game 1 wasn’t lack of firepower because of Malkin’s absence, but goaltending.

Tristan Jarry struggled in the second postseason start of his career, allowing a pair of wrist shots to the glove side from outside the faceoff dots.

The Penguins declined to blame Jarry.

“I think Tristan is in a good spot from a mindset standpoint, and we’re confident that he will respond and be at his best in Game 2,” coach Mike Sullivan said.

Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov skated with the team Monday after being scratched for Game 1. Rookie Ilya Sorokin played exceptionally well over the final two-plus periods to help New York steal home-ice advantage.

The Penguins have lost 10 of their past 11 postseason games going back to the second round against Washington in 2018.

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AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh and AP freelancer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Steven Wine, The Associated Press

Intensity from the outset in Sunshine State playoff series .
Toronto's beloved Trinity Bellwoods Park apparently needs to clean up its act. On Saturday, May 15, the Queen West park turned into a landfill after several visitors did not pick up their garbage.

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