I saw Tampa Bay score more goals tonight than I saw in their three New York games combined. But it wasn't enough as the Florida Panthers scored on a David Booth tip-in with a minute to go to take a 4-3 win at the BankAtlantic Center.
A sparse crowd saw the game, and for the first time on my trip, the upper deck of an arena was almost completely empty. The building, like the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, is well-designed and welcoming, but without any of the unique touches that I've seen in other cities. A solid 7 out of 10, but without much atmosphere.
The Lightning is now 0-7 on the road (0-4 with me, 0-3 without me) and I'll see them again in Washington on Saturday. During the second intermission, Paul Kennedy from Sun Sports took us down to the bowels of the building to watch his interview with Brad Lukowich. This was my first time watching the players file into the locker room, and TV doesn't do justice to the intensity in their eyes.
Despite the score, it was an entertaining game. There were some pretty goals and Lightning bad boy Nick Tarnasky flattened Bryan Allen in a "blink and you missed it" fight. He hit him with the first punch of the bout and I don't think Allen returned to the game, or even knew what galaxy he was in!
For a change, today wasn't all about hockey....my son, Nik, picked me up at the Lauderdale airport and we headed to his apartment (that I pay 1/3 of the rent for, but had never seen). It looked like most college kids' apartments and we headed out to the new Ikea store to pick a couple of items to make it look like more like a home. I'd never been in an Ikea store and was blown away by a) the size of the store, b) the low prices and c) how many people were in there on a Monday afternoon. They even have an overflow parking lot a couple miles away that they share with the BankCenter, but I imagine Ikea needs it more that the Panthers! We then headed over to the huge Sawgrass Mills Mall to grab a bite to eat before the game with Nik's girlfriend Tara and her Dad.
It's 7.30am and I'm sitting at the Fort Lauderdale airport and the day is off to a rough start. My Continental Airlines flight to Newark is delayed, as the crew got in late last night. It's 50 minutes late, leaving me 15 minutes to make my connection. That probably won't happen, so I'll need to take the next flight from Newark that gets me in to Ottawa at 4.47pm, assuming it's on time. I have a backup plan for every game, and looks like I'll have to use it today, so cross your fingers for me!
The lady was very helpful at the Continental counter, but when I saw my boarding pass, I cringed. In the bottom right-hand corner were the letters SSSS. I know that means I've been selected to get the full treatment from the TSA. So I go through the explosive machine - no bombs on me, then the drug machine - I'm clean, Mom, and finally the complete bag search - lucky for them I'd washed my underwear at Nik's house!
Hopefully, I was just randomly selected for the search, but my Dad refuses to read the New York Times because he says it's "too liberal". After they wrote the article about me yesterday, perhaps I got added to some secret list of undesirables. Was it just coincidence or is big brother really watching? Before you flood me with e-mails, don't worry, I'm only kidding (maybe!)
I'm optimistic I'll make it to Ottawa on time, but somebody get the police escort from the airport ready just in case!