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Tampa Bay Lightning announce first round schedule against the Florida Panthers

The playoffs get rolling on Sunday

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers will meet in the playoffs for the first time in their franchises history. Despite a couple of decades of coexistence in the Sunshine State, the two teams have never met in the postseason. That ends on Sunday.

On Thursday, the NHL finally released the schedule for the first round and the Bolts/Cats get underway on Sunday. For both teams it will mean that they haven’t played competitively in almost a week as their last game of the regular season was on Monday. The rest should help both teams as key players on each side have missed recent games due to injuries.

By sweeping both season-ending games, the Panthers secured the second seed in the Central Division and home ice for this series. Both teams are expected to have fans in the building for their home games so it will be nice to hear the supportive cheers, or as Victor Hedman said in his press conference on Thursday, the hostile environment and boos on the road. That means “you’re doing something right”.

There are no back-to-back games scheduled and no multi-day breaks. Once the puck drops Sunday night, the two teams will play every other night until there is a winner. The only real oddity is that the first four games all have different start times, including a rare Saturday matinee for Game 4.

It does look like all four games will be televised on the NBC platform of channels o it would be a good idea to figure out where they are on your television guide or streaming service.

Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, BB&T Arena, Sunday, May 16th at 7:30pm (NBCSN)

Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, BB&T Arena, Tuesday, May 18th at 8:00pm (CNBC)

Game 3: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena, Thursday, May 20th at 6:30pm (USA)

Game 4: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena, Saturday, May 22nd at 12:30pm (CNBC)

Game 5*: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, BB&T Arena, Monday, May 24th TBD

Game 6*: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena, Wednesday, May 26th TBD

Game 7*: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, BB&T Arena, Friday, May 28th TBD

Per the Lightning’s press release there will be a pep rally on Saturday the 15th.

“The Lightning, along with AdventHealth, will be hosting a 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bolts Drive Thru Pep Rally outside of Westshore Plaza in South Tampa on Saturday, May 15 from 9 a.m. until Noon. The Pep Rally will take place in the Sears parking lot area at Westshore Plaza.

Fans can pick up Lightning playoff yard signs, promotional items and other Lightning partner giveaways. Dunkin’ will be providing free pre-packaged donuts for the first 1,000 cars plus co-branded rally towels. Additional activations will include Florida Blue, Florida Aquarium, iHeart Radio, Tampa Zoo and Lowry Park and more. Fans attending will be asked to stay in their vehicle as they drive through the Pep Rally.”