Certainly, the highlight of this game for the Lightning was that Daniel Walcott, after several seasons in the AHL, got to make his NHL debut. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Walcott, who missed most of the 2018-19 season after sustaining an injury while playing for the Lightning in a preseason game. Another highlight was that the Lightning started the game using a line of Walcott, Mathieu Joseph, and Gemel Smith, three Black players.
The game itself had a bit of a preseason feel to it. Many regulars on both sides didn’t play. And while the Lightning and Panthers skated hard throughout the night, neither side played with the intensity that they’ll bring when they start their playoff series.
The difference in the game was that the Panthers cashed in on their scoring chances and the Lightning didn’t. Chris Driedger had a lot to do with the Lightning’s inability to convert on their chances. In the first period, he stopped Brayden Point‘s breakaway. In the second, he made point-blank stops on Alex Killorn and Ross Colton. He denied an in-alone chance for Alex Barre-Boulet in the third. The Lightning also hit two posts in the third.
At the other end, MacKenzie Weegar opened the scoring by snapping a shot from the high slot into the top of the net during the first period. During a second period Lightning power play, Juho Lammikko stripped Andrei Vasilevskiy of the puck behind the Lightning net and scored on a wraparound. The Panthers added two more in the third, converting on an odd-man rush and on a tip.
When the teams meet next, it’ll be Game One of their first round playoff series. Between now and then, the Lightning will look to get healthy and get ready for the challenge of facing a deep, talented, and dangerous opponent.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Bobby “The Chief” Taylor):
1. Chris Driedger – Panthers. 30-save shutout.
2. Aleksander Barkov – Panthers. Assist.
3. Juho Lammikko – Panthers. SHG.