Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

If you are viewing this story via our mobile app and are unable to see videos and tweets, click here.

Could they really do it again?

The Lightning sure looked the part of defending Stanley Cup champions during their series-clinching win over the Panthers Wednesday in Tampa.

Their biggest stars shined, they got significant contributions from their third and fourth lines, and they showed they could protect a lead in their Game 6 win. They were dangerous on offense and disciplined in all three zones while dispatching one of the tougher first-round foes with their most complete game of the postseason.

Now, they have to do it all over again against yet another team that finished ahead of them in the Central Division starting tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

The first-place Hurricanes eliminated the fourth-place Predators in six games in their first-round series. But Carolina had more trouble with Nashville than third-place Tampa Bay did with second-place Florida, with the final four games going to overtime.

While the Lightning are as familiar with the Hurricanes as they were with the Panthers (going 4-3-1 in their eight regular-season meetings), they expect a different type of challenge. The Hurricanes are fast and skilled, just like the Panthers. But Carolina pressures the puck in all three zones, taking away opponents’ space.

Which team will get off to the better start in the best-of-seven series?

Follow our live updates, starting at 5 p.m., as the Lightning hope to take the first step toward advancing to the Stanley Cup semifinals.

• • •

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.