Sunrise, Fl. – The Florida Panthers hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning, Saturday night, in the penultimate game of the season in what turned into more of a UFC bout than a hockey game thanks to Tampa’s incessant and disgraceful dirty play with over 140 total penalty minutes served. The Ice Cats proved their superiority over the once venerated Lighting by showing class and superior skill to the tune of a 5-1 beat down led by an Alex Wennberg hat trick.
After countless odd-man rushes to open the 1st period, Florida finally broke through with the opening salvo with eight minutes left to play. Alex Wennberg picked up the puck on the right-wing, froze the Lightning defense with the threat of a pass before firing the puck into the stick-side upper netting.
— NHL (@NHL) May 8, 2021
The Panthers would close out the 1st period with a strong penalty kill, punctuated by a great double-save by Sergei Bobrovsky in the final seconds of the Tampa advantage. It looked like the rout was on as the Panthers opened the 2nd period with a power-play and doubled their lead four minutes in. Sam Bennett finished off a great passing sequence with a point-blank wrister. Tampa got back in the game in a flash as they cut the lead in half a minute later, bringing the score to 2-1.
The physicality continued to escalate throughout the 2nd period as both sides retaliated and picked up penalties throughout the period. It would be Florida that would come out on top after the dust settled as they pushed the lead to 3-1 after a Wennberg pass from behind the net would get tipped up in the air and end up in the back of the net. The Ice Cats would make it 4-1 after Johnathan Huberdeau hit the Lightning with a back-handed five-holer on a faceoff win with five minutes to play in the 2nd period.
The Main Event
The 3rd period went much like the 2nd, dominated by the rough stuff from both teams but especially dirt tactics from the Lightning. After serving an eternity of penalty minutes (17), Ryan Lomberg thundered in and started laying hits on everyone and nearly scored twice in one of his first shifts back in the game. Tampa’s disgusting cheap shots also continued culminating in an ejection when Owen Tippett was tackled from behind by Ross Colton who then proceeded to throw punches while on top of Tippet.
Wennberg would complete the hat trick with six minutes to play in the game after getting out on the break and flipping the puck over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder. The end of the game would end with more disgraceful dirty play from the sore loser Tampa Bay Lighting, but the Ice Cats would get the last laugh coming out on top 5-1.
The Duke’s Outstanding Gentleman of the Game
1. Ryan Lomberg | 29 Penalty Minutes | Not Taking Shit From Anyone
2. Brandon Montour | 19 Penalty Minutes | Not Taking Shit From Anyone
3. Alex Wennberg | Hat Trick Hero
WENNY & THE HATS! pic.twitter.com/OpscI1PeZU
— x – Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 9, 2021
📸 Credit: Eliot J. Schechter