TAMPA — With the Lightning playing a critical playoff game against the Canadiens on Friday night, fans watching on television were hoping to catch captain Steven Stamkos.
Instead, some saw the Seattle Mariners.
Due to technical difficulties, Bright House customers in central and north Florida, including the Tampa Bay area, missed most of the first period on Fox Sports Florida, which was carrying Game 2 of the Eastern Conference series. The Marlins-Mariners game, which was intended only for viewers in south Florida, was shown until the problem was resolved with 50 seconds remaining in the period and the score 0-0.
After the Lightning game returned, play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham read an apology during the second period.
"During the first period of tonight's game, we had a technical issue at master control that impacted Bright House customers in north and central Florida," Peckham said. "We take great pride in delivering the very best Lightning broadcast year-round, and tonight we fell short of that. From all of us at Fox, we sincerely apologize and promise we'll take the steps necessary to make sure this does not happen again."
The Lightning games are usually on Sun Sports. But conflicts with Rays games have pushed some of the playoff games to Fox Sports Florida. The Marlins broadcast crew of Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton also apologized on the air for the Lightning game not being on and explained what was happening.
While the Lightning game was off the air, frustrated fans voiced their displeasure. Some complaints from Twitter:
Kevin Johnson @KevinDGJohnson: "Why would I want to watch the #Bolts playoff game in Tampa anyway when I could be watching the Marlins-Mariners?!!!! Thanks @SunSportsFOXFL!"
@LegendaryIsles: " '@SunSportsFOXFL: Aware of and apologize for the technical difficulties with the #TBLightning game' BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Unacceptable"
Drew Garabo @DrewOnTheRadio: "It's 2014. How do you need to 'work on a technical issue,' @SunSportsFOXFL when you could just push one button? It's the NHL Playoffs!"
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.