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Lightning take commanding 3-0 series lead against Panthers

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The Florida Panthers were the best team in the NHL in the regular season, the highest scoring team in almost 30 years, and looked like a real contender for the Stanley Cup.

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Now they are facing the prospect of being eliminated from the second round.

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They lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, giving the Lightning a 3-0 series lead and putting the Panthers on the brink of elimination.

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It was a stunning turnaround for the Panthers’ offense as they only scored three goals in the first three games of the series. This came after their offense became the first team since 1995-96 to average over four goals per game over 82 regular season games. Now they can’t generate anything. Even more discouraging Sunday was that the Panthers’ offense seemed completely lost and inept throughout the third period, knowing what kind of deficit they would face.

Even during their first-round series victory over Washington, the Panthers looked out of place. They lost two of the first three games of the series, were mostly outplayed and were just inches from losing the hole 3-1. They needed two overtime wins and three comeback wins to get through the Capitals.

They needed to be better against a superior Lightning team to have a chance to advance. They weren’t better and are paying the price against a team that has a championship pedigree. The power play was erratic throughout the postseason, and offense in general just couldn’t start in every situation.

It also happens against the Lightning team, who have played this entire series up to this point without one of their best players. Briden Point. It didn’t matter to the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions who continue to find ways to win games and block opponents.

It is also helpful to have the starting goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to his elite level after a slow start to the playoffs.

The Lightning now has a chance to complete the sweep on Monday night.

If they advance, it will be their sixth trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in the past eight seasons.

Adam Gretz is the writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.



Source: nhl.nbcsports.com

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