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Full schedule is released for the Lightning's NHL playoff series against the Panthers

Steven Stamkos celebrates his goal, wearing a blue uniform
Chris O'Meara
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period on April 15, 2024, in Tampa.

The series opens in Sunrise on Sunday. Game 2 is Tuesday, and the series comes to Amalie Arena for Games 3 and 4 starting Thursday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning may be facing a difficult task if they hope to avoid their second first-round exit from the NHL playoffs.

Starting Sunday, the Lightning will take on the Florida Panthers, winners of the Atlantic Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

As Lightning coach Jon Cooper said ahead of the series against the cross-state Panthers, more than a decade on the job has led to just two championships.

“That’s a lot of times not being able to get through the gauntlet,” Cooper said. “It’s hard. It’s really hard to do.”

The Panthers (52-24-6) finished the season with a four-game win streak to make up a five-point deficit in the standings.

Carolina, which opens against the New York Islanders, are 13-2 Cup favorites, according to BetMGM Sportsbook, followed by Florida at 7-1.

The Lightning, Stanley Cup winners in 2020-21, are 25-1, even with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy rounding back into form.

“He’s at his best when the games are on the line, and we look for that once again this year," 2020 playoff MVP Victor Hedman said. "It’s obviously so fun to have the best goalie in the world behind you when the playoffs start.”

The series against the Panthers begins Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in Sunrise, and the series comes to Tampa on Thursday. Tickets for the games at Amalie Arena can be purchased here.

The Lightning will be trying to avoid their second straight early exit. The Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated them in six games in the first round last season.

If you want to get into the playoff spirit before the weekend, the city of Tampa is holding a Lightning banner drop Friday at 10:30 a.m. outside Old City Hall, at East Jackson Street and North Florida Avenue.


  • Sunday: at Panthers, 12:30 (Bally's Sports Sun, ESPN)
  • Tuesday: at Panthers, 7:30 (ESPN2)
  • Thursday: LIGHTNING, 7 p.m. (TBS, HBO Max)
  • April 27: LIGHTNING, 5 p.m. (TBS, truTV, HBO Max)
  • x-April 29: at Panthers TBD
  • x-May 1: at Lightning, TBD
  • Game 7: at Panthers, TBD
I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.
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