TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning will be on the road to start the first round of the NHL playoffs, but they won't have to go far.

The Bolts will begin their quest for a fourth Stanley Cup crown Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the Florida Panthers. 

What You Need To Know

  • NHL 1st round playoffs: Tampa Bay Lightning to face Florida Panthers 

  • Game 1: Tampa Bay at Florida, Sunday, 12:30 p.m. 

  • NHL Playoffs begin Saturday 

  • Playoff tickets 

  • Sparkman Wharf (Game 1) and Midtown Tampa (Game 2) hosting Lightning watch parties and $5 tickets go on sale Friday at noon for Game 3/4 viewing parties at Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena 

Here's a look at the full series schedule: (All first round games will also be tlevised on Bally Sports Sun)

Game 1 – Lightning at Panthers on Sunday, April 21 (Amerant Bank Arena) 12:30 p.m. ESPN

Game 2 – Lightning at Panthers on Tuesday, April 23 (Amerant Bank Arena) 7:30 p.m. ESPN2

Game 3 – Panthers at Lightning on Thursday, April 25 (AMALIE Arena) 7 p.m. TBS

Game 4 – Panthers at Lightning on Saturday, April 27 (AMALIE Arena) 5 p.m. TBS

Game 5 – Lightning at Panthers on Monday, April 29 (Amerant Bank Arena) * if necessary

Game 6 – Panthers at Lightning on Wednesday, May 1 (AMALIE Arena) * if necessary

Game 7 – Lightning at Panthers on Saturday, May 4 (Amerant Bank Arena) * if necessary

The Bolts swept the Panthers just two years ago in the 2nd round of the playoffs. This post-season meeting between in-state foes will be the third meeting in the past four seasons. 

Tampa Bay and Florida are playing each other in the postseason for the third time with the Lightning having won both previous series (2021 First Round, 4-2 Bolts and 2022 Eastern Conference Second Round, 4-0 Bolts).

The Lightning finished as the first wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers are the Atlantic Division champion.

Florida and Tampa Bay played three times in the regular season, with the Panthers winning the first two, 3-2 on Dec. 27 and 9-2 on Feb. 17. The Lightning won 5-3 on March 16.

Last season, Florida lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning was defeated by the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games in the first round.