Lightning, Panthers will compete for the Governor’s Cup

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Tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Lightning and Panthers will meet for the first time this season. And make no mistake, there’s more than a mere two points at stake. The winner of the game will take the first step towards capturing the Governor’s Cup.

The what now?

From a press release on the Lightning’s website:

The winner of the annual season series between the two Atlantic Division and in-state rivals will be awarded the Governor’s Cup following the final matchup of the season and each team will make a donation to the other team’s youth hockey initiatives. In addition, both teams will provide tickets to local students for Governor’s Cup games and select players will take part in local reading programs throughout the season.

Governor Rick Scott said, “The Sunshine State is a national leader in sports, and the creation of the Governor’s Cup is great news for Florida hockey. This competition is an excellent way to highlight the opportunities that Floridians, and our visitors, have to enjoy all of the wonderful activities that our state has to offer.”

The winner of the Governor’s Cup is determined by the team with the most points during the four Governor’s Cup games (two points for a win, one point for an overtime or shootout loss, and zero points for a regulation loss). The first tiebreaker is goal difference.

OK, so the Panthers-Lightning rivalry doesn’t have quite the cachet of, say, the Florida-Florida State football rivalry, but hey, the NHL has only been in that state for a couple of decades. These things take time.

If you’re curious, the Lightning won the series in 2013, beating the Panthers in three of the teams’ five meetings.