Tampa Bay Lightning Game 82: at the Florida Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning ended their season by beating the Florida Panthers 3-1.

For those of you that might’ve missed it, the Lightning ended the season on a three-game winning streak. Yes, the last few games were either crazy or boring, but they did end on a winning note. And for a team not making the post season for the third year running, you can’t ask for more than that.

In the end, Tampa Bay ended up 12th overall in the Eastern Conference. That puts them as 25th overall in the NHL. While not the playoff spot that everyone hoped for, that’s still a bit better than the last two seasons’ finishes.

The story of the night was, of course, Steven Stamkos getting his share of the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for most goals scored during the regular season. He tied the Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby with 51 goals on an empty netter with 13 seconds left in the game. So congratulations to both Stamkos and Crosby on a job well done.

The mystery of the night was why Steve Downie was suited up and on the bench, but never played a single minute of the game. The official explanation – given after the game – was that Downie "wasn’t feeling well." So says his coach Rick Tocchet. Still, if he wasn’t feeling well, why dress him in the first place? It’s possible, but unlikely, that Downie’s illness/injury was sudden enough to not play him, but not bad enough to keep him off the bench.

What’s one more mystery in a season full of them, though, right?

And this concludes the Lightning’s 2009-2010 season. Thanks for reading, thank you for participating in the game threads, and check back for updates throughout the offseason. We will have an open thread for the draft lottery on Tuesday.

Lightning vs Panthers coverage [SB Nation]

Litter Box Cats [SB Nation Florida Panthers site]

Lightning vs Panthers recap [TSN]

Lightning vs Panthers recap [TSN]