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Lightning play-by-play commentator says Panthers rematch will solidify rivalry

Puck drop for Game 1 is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday
Maple Leafs Lightning Hockey
Posted at 8:01 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 08:01:08-04

It was a preseason game in early October — between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers at Amway Center in Orlando — when Dave Randorf knew it was official: the in-state rivalry between the two teams was beyond legit.

"There were fights, there was pushing and shoving, there were all kinds of goals, and of course, we had a great regular-season series as well," Randorf, the play-by-play commentator for the Lightning, remembered. "These two teams do not like each other.”

The two teams faced off in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning defeated the Panthers in a tough-fought six-game first-round series.

Now, the teams meet in the second round of the 2022 playoffs for a Sunshine State rematch.

“It’s just going to get better and faster and more intense," said Randorf. "You know, the Panthers and the Lightning have never really been on the same level, really, very much over the last 20 years, but now, they’re both elite teams, and we should really be looking forward to what will be a fantastic series, and the rivalry is certainly alive in the State of Florida.”

The Panthers finished the regular season with the league's best record and are favored by oddsmakers in the second-round match-up, but Randorf said the Lightning will prove a tough opponent, after momentum-building wins in Games 6 and 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

“(Round 2 is) not going to be short. Nobody’s sweeping anybody in this one. I definitely think Lightning fans should buckle up for another long six — maybe another seven — games, just because these two are very good teams, and there’s going to be some back and forth. There’s going to be some back and forth. There’s going to be some good nights for the Lightning, and there’s going to be a couple good nights for the Panthers, just because they are that good," he said. "But, I still like the Bolts.”

With the Bolts starting the series on the road in Sunrise, the team will host a watch party at Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena for Tuesday night's Game 1.

The party starts at 6 p.m. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. The plaza will open at 5 p.m. to allow fans time to place their chairs.

You can catch Randorf's analysis on Bally Sports Sun, which will broadcast a post-game show immediately following each game.