SUNRISE — After two first-round playoff games, one thing remains certain: this Panthers-Lightning matchup likely will stay physical to the bitter end.
A soldout crowd of 9,646 certainly seemed to help fuel the feud between the in-state rivals as the Lightning took a two-game series lead after Tuesday night’s 3-1 win.
Lightning forward Blake Coleman took many of the pushes and shoves in Sunday’s opener, but it wasn’t something he took personally.
“I guess it’s just the way I play the game,” Coleman said before Tuesday’s game.
“I just try to play hard, play honest. If guys want to take liberties, then fine. I’m more than happy to help our team get on the power play and create some chances. It’s playoff hockey. It’s going to be intense and there’ll be a lot of battles all over the ice, not just with me but with the entire team.”
It wasn’t just Coleman the Panthers kept their eyes on during Game 2. The team added Mikhail Sergachev to its list of players to pester.
The Lightning defenseman found himself in multiple tussles early on with Florida’s Ryan Lomberg and Mason Marchment.
More than halfway through the first period, Lomberg landed a late hit on Sergachev against the boards. Sergachev turned to an on-ice official, but no call was made. At the end of the period, Sergachev barely maneuvered out of the way from another late check, this time from Marchment.
The antics only amped up from there.
At the end of the second period, Lightning forward Pat Maroon flapped his arms in a chicken dance motion at the Panthers bench.
And toward the end of the game, Coleman waved goodbye to Lomberg as Lomberg left the ice after receiving a misconduct penalty following a after a post-whistle scrum at the net.
Even though it appeared like another emotional outing, the Lightning believed they kept things in check better in Game 2. Tampa Bay had just eight penalty minutes, half of the time it sat out on Sunday.
“I think both teams were a little more disciplined tonight,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said.
“Both teams are trying to set the tone here in the first game and now you realize that you have to go out and play high-percentage and be disciplined. Both teams were a little smarter in that aspect, and it’s probably going to have to continue. We have to stay out of the box.”
• The first period was penalty-free, compared to eight in the opening period on Sunday.
• Lightning forward Alex Killorn was named the team’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominee for the second straight season. The award honors the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
• Lightning defenseman David Savard notched his first point since being traded to Tampa Bay. He received an assist on Steven Stamkos’ goal in the first period.
• Coach Jon Cooper’s lineup shifted from a traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen to 11-7. Forward Mathieu Joseph sat out as a healthy scratch while defenseman Luke Schenn found his way onto the ice for the first time this postseason.
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