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Panthers open playoffs with smart win over Lightning, CBS News Miami's Steve Goldstein

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CBS News Miami Live

SUNRISE - A raucous Amerant Bank arena crowd of nearly 20,000 watched the Florida Panthers play a disciplined Game 1, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2.

It was the first time in decades the Panthers opened the playoffs with a Game 1, round one victory, a point Aleksander Barkov made after the game. Tampa Bay only had two power plays while the Panthers scored the go-ahead goal early in the 3rd period on their own man advantage. Special teams will continue to be a big story in this series and if the Panthers are able to stay out of a penalty box like they did Sunday afternoon there are chances to win the series rise dramatically.

Let's get physical
It was the rare hockey game where every player on both teams had at least one hit. And these were not after the whistle or dirty hits. It was a hard-nosed, clean hockey game, that truly showed what the playoffs are about and how the Panthers have evolved into a championship contender. They also did a tremendous job of not engaging after whistles and running the risk of taking roughing penalties.

Attention to detail
Tampa Bay's core players have won the Stanley Cup. They've also won numerous individual awards. The Panthers lost to the Lightning in the playoffs in 2021 and 2022. They are looking to flip the script this year and if Game 1 is any indication they've got a great chance to do so. All five Panthers on the ice were aware when Tampa's stars had the puck and gave them very little time and space to make plays.

Big Bob and the defense
The Panthers held Tampa shotless for the first 16 minutes of the game. Late in the game with the Panthers up 2-1, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky came up with big saves on Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos. He looked like the goaltender of a year ago that helped carry the Panthers into the Stanley Cup final.

Barkov dominates
Aleksander Barkov played an elite all-around game. He shut down his opposing center, was in perfect position all afternoon and had assists on the first two goals. When your best player and captain has the kind of discipline, smarts, and work ethic that Barkov does it filters to the whole team.

Game 2 is Tuesday night at Amerant Bank Arena before the best of seven series shifts to Tampa. 

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