TAMPA, Fla. These rivals will meet again. There's time for fortunes to flip. But Tuesday's result, sealed by the second intermission, followed the early season script for both sides in the Sunshine State showdown.
It goes like this: The Tampa Bay Lightning have burst past the starting line, while the Florida Panthers have stalled with smoke billowing from their hood. The Bolts have been smooth and efficient through the first two weeks, as sleek as a Porsche. The Cats? They're more like a Ford Pinto with a busted radiator.
"There's still a lot left in us," said Tampa Bay center Cory Conacher after the Lightning's 5-2 victory over the Panthers at Tampa Bay Times Forum. "We can't get too big of heads right now. It's the first six games of the season, and teams are still getting used to the speed of the game.
"It's going to be important for us to stay humble and just do the little things that we know how to do right."