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Panthers turn to Chris Driedger in net for Game 2 vs. Lightning

Kathryn Tappen, Anson Carter and Dominic Moore hand out this week's Top Performance to Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov, who returned from injury to score two goals in the Bolts' Game 1 win over the Panthers.

Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville has decided to make a goaltending change ahead of their Game 2 matchup with the Lightning (8 p.m. ET; CNBC) Tuesday night.

Chris Driedger will replace Sergei Bobrovsky as Florida looks to even up their series with Tampa Bay.

“I think all year long it was the same thing,” Quenneville said. “Bob was fine. Driedgs has been more than fine. In that regard if we’re comparing the two of them, but it’s been back-and-forth all year ... It’s a very competitive series. It’s a lot of action. He’s played extremely well in the Tampa games as well.

Prior to the series, Quenneville said he had faith in Bobrovsky as his No. 1. He knew facing the Lightning offense would be a test for his netminder and that “we know what goaltending means to a team’s success.”

Bobrovsky stopped 35 of 40 shots in Game 1, but Quenneville is moving on to Driedger, who made 23 appearances during the regular seasons helping the Panthers to 14 wins. Driedger, who turned 27 Tuesday, also led Florida in even strength save percentage (.934) and shutouts (3).

“All year long [Driedger] did everything you’d want,” Quenneville said. “It’s an opportunity when you’re looking at goaltending to see how he’s going to play in the playoffs. We’re going to take it one game at a time. He hasn’t had this chance in two years here so we feel it’s the right time to give him an opportunity.”

PANTHERS VS. LIGHTNING (TB leads 1-0) - series livestream link

Game 1: Lightning 5, Panthers 4
Tuesday, May 18: Lightning at Panthers, 8 p.m. ET (CNBC)
Thursday, May 20: Panthers at Lightning, 6:30 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Saturday, May 22: Panthers at Lightning, 12:30 p.m. ET (CNBC)
*Monday, May 24: Lightning at Panthers TBD
*Wednesday, May 26: Panthers at Lightning TBD
*Friday, May 28: Lightning at Panthers TBD


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.