Game 81: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 in their last home game of the regular season.

The Lightning have broken that 100-point level in the standings for the second time in their history. In regards to their overall record, this is also the second best season for the franchise ever - and they still have one game left. Their best one being their Stanley Cup run in 2004, naturally.

Team captain Vincent Lecavalier scored on a penalty shot, and also had a goal. He now has four goals in three games. He also won 14 of 18 faceoffs - that's a winning percentage of 78% on the night - and had five shots on goal. The man was a force in this game.

The team played very well in the first and the second. Then they started to sit back and relax a little too much for the third. They'd had a three-goal lead at that point, and probably thought that the game was in the bag. But then the Panthers came back and scored a goal, and tried making a game of it. It wasn't the best period I've seen them play, but they managed to hang on to that two-goal lead to win the game.

Victor Hedman sat out due to a "lower body" injury. He apparently would've been able to play, had the game been important. But they felt that he should sit out the last two games so that he'll be better ready for playoffs.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the New York Islanders in a shootout, Tampa Bay is firmly staying in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. However, since Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia Flyers, both teams being in the Atlantic Division, are tied for points, it won't be known which team the Lightning will play until the very last day of the season. The Flyers play the Islanders tonight, while the Penguins play the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow at 3 pm Eastern.

The last game of the regular season has implications for other teams. If the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes, that ends the possibility for playoffs for them. And that allows the Lightning's former head coach, John Tortorella, and his New York Rangers team to play the Washington Capitals, who lead the Eastern Conference. So who the Caps play in the first round will be dependent upon whether the Lightning beat the ‘Canes or not.

The next game is tonight, 9 April, versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will open at 6:30 pm.

As a side note, for the playoffs, Raw Charge's game thread will now open an hour before games.

Come join us tonight, and for playoffs. Whether you're a Lightning fan or a hockey fan, it doesn't matter to us. The more the merrier. Regardless of where your loyalties lie, it's going to be a fun ride.

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