SUNRISE — After just one game, the Florida Panthers are making a switch in net in their first-round playoff series against the Lightning.
Panthers starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed five goals on 40 shots in the Lightning’s 5-4 Game 1 comeback victory, will sit for Tuesday night’s Game 2 at BB&T Center in favor of backup Chris Driedger.
The start will mark the postseason debut for Driedger, who was 2-0-1 with a .913 save percentage in three regular-season meetings against the Lightning, including a shutout win over Tampa Bay on May 10.
“Driedge has been in this position,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “Even last year at the end of the year, he was under consideration. And all year long, he did everything you’d want, and it’s an opportunity when we’re looking at goaltending to see how it’s gonna play in the playoffs. We’re gonna take it one game at a time. He hasn’t had this chance here for two years here. So we feel it’s the right time to give him an opportunity. It’s based on performance and based on the opportunity.
Bobrovsky, who was a big reason the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the Lightning with a first-round, four-game sweep in 2018-19, posting a 4-0 record and .932 save percentage, hasn’t had the same success against the Lightning this year. He went 3-2 with an .879 save percentage against Tampa Bay in the regular season.
Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, allowed three goals on six shots in power-play situations during Game 1 but held the Lightning to one 5-on-5 goal on 25 shot attempts. He also allowed a shorthanded goal in the first period.
“They’re trading one NHL goalie for another NHL goalie,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “That’s what they’re doing. Their system doesn’t change. How they play doesn’t really change, and I don’t think goaltender should matter. We’ve had a lot of playoff series against the best of the best, and they’re putting another guy in who is having a fabulous year and it’s his job to stop the puck. It’s our job to get it by him.”
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