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Lightning ticket restrictions could block the red for visiting Caps fans

Tampa Bay Lightning fans outside Amalie Arena before a game against the Boston Bruins. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

For the Washington Capitals, a second-round playoff win over the Pittsburgh Penguins encompassed two decades of expectations and disappointments, regular season bliss and postseason heartache. Caps fans who endured every bump of that journey could now find that a trip to the Eastern Conference finals includes a couple more unexpected obstacles.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has amended its ticket policy for the next round of the playoffs, barring anyone without a Florida Zip code from buying tickets through the team or its official partner, Ticketmaster.

“Orders by residents outside of Florida will be canceled without notice and refunds given,” the team says on its site.

The use of “geofencing” technology is not unheard of in the sports world, and fans can still explore the secondary market for tickets to Friday’s Game 1 at Amalie Arena. The Caps similarly restricted single-game sales for their second-round series against the Penguins to residents of Washington, Maryland and Virginia. Tickets listed for the Caps’ home games against the Lightning again carry that restriction, posing a similar obstacle for out-of-area fans hoping to attend Games 3 and 4.

The Lightning had already sold out its allotment of single-game tickets for the conference finals before the Caps wrapped up their series with the Penguins on Monday, according to Bill Wickett, the team’s executive vice president of communications. Ticketmaster listed a couple hundred of tickets for resale as of Wednesday afternoon; those tickets also carry the Zip code warning. The team has previously used the same Zip code restrictions in the postseason, an effort to make sure Lightning fans are well represented in their home arena.

“It’s just an added measure to keep our building as blue as possible,” Wickett said.

Fans who have been saving their money for the past two decades and are able to get around the Zip code restriction to spring for the priciest seats in Tampa will encounter another unique rule: The Lightning instituted a strict dress code for some parts of the arena during these playoffs, as it has done in recent years.

The Capitals finally beat the Penguins. They don’t want to stop there.

Arena staff won’t allow fans to rock the red in the Lightning’s Lexus Lounge, which includes seats against the glass, or in the Chase Club luxury suites. All told, the dress code affects about 10 percent of Amalie Arena seating and is meant to ensure that only Lightning fans occupy some of the best seats in the house.

“Fans wearing visiting team-branded apparel will be asked to remove such apparel while in these areas,” the team says on its website.

Any Caps fans who have seats in one of these areas will be required to wear “neutral apparel.” If they show up in Caps gear, the Lightning will offer a neutral-colored T-shirt instead. The measure was also in place during the Lightning’s second-round matchup against Boston, which drew both ire and snickers from Bruins faithful.

Wickett said that all the seats impacted by the dress code are held by season ticket holders and thus would only be available on the secondary market. The team first tried out the policy during the 2015 playoffs and received positive feedback from Lightning supporters.

Read more Caps coverage:

Bruins gear barred from some sections in Tampa, and Boston fans aren’t thrilled

There’s a cursed Capitals puck buried beneath the Penguins’ arena. (Its powers are suspect.)

The stupidest streak in sports is dead, thanks to the Caps. Bye.

Washingtonians go bonkers after Caps’ overtime win

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s overtime goal: Watch it, listen to it, never forget it

That Caps win was Washington’s biggest since …

The other two times the Caps advanced to the conference finals