The Florida Panthers will have the home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against Tampa Bay after beating the visiting Lightning 4-0 on Monday night in Sunrise, Fla.
Chris Driedger registered his third shutout of the season and the fourth of his career, and MacKenzie Weegar, Juho Lammikko, Carter Varhaeghe and Alex Wennberg scored for Florida. Lammikko also had an assist.
The Panthers (37-14-5, 79 points) needed just a point Monday to secure the second overall seed in the Central Division, but they got two points for the victory. Florida ends the regular season four points ahead of the Lightning (36-17-3, 75).
The Panthers will play host to Tampa Bay in Game 1 of the best-of-7 first-round postseason series at a time and date to be determined.
This will be the first playoff series between the two Florida teams. The Panthers go into the postseason winners of their past six games while the Lightning end the regular season on a three-game slide.
The Panthers got the scoring going in the first period when Weegar one-timed a drop pass from Mason Marchment at 15:19.
Florida added to its lead at 8:23 of the second period as Lammikko beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (26 saves) for a short-handed tally.
The Panthers scored twice in the third period, with Verhaeghe finding the net at 2:27 and Wennberg converting a deflection at 14:07.
Monday was the third consecutive win for the Panthers over the Lightning, and all three came against Vasilevskiy.
Although home ice was on the line, both teams sat a number of players.
Tampa Bay was without Pat Maroon due to suspension, and it also sat Ondrej Palat, Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman.
Florida’s list of healthy scratches included Sergei Bobrovsky, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, Brandon Montour and Patric Hornqvist.
After the teams combined for 154 penalty minutes on Saturday night in a 5-1 Panthers win, Monday’s game was much calmer, although it was not devoid of bad blood. The sides were charged with 15 combined penalties for 38 minutes on Monday night.
–Field Level Media