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Tampa Bay
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31-42-9
Florida
Panthers
38-35-9

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Lightning-Panthers Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Associated Press

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Lightning-Panthers Preview
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Tampa Bay's Chris Gratton seemed to enjoy playing against his former team earlier this week.

He'll get another chance to come up big against Florida on Saturday when the undefeated Lightning face the Panthers for the second time in four days.

Gratton spent the last two seasons with Florida, totaling 30 goals and 44 assists. He was traded to Tampa Bay (3-0-0), where he played the first four seasons of his career, in June for a draft pick.

Gratton faced the Panthers (1-3-0) for the first time since the trade on Wednesday and scored both of the Lightning's goals in a 2-1 win in Tampa Bay.

"It's always tough to play your former teammates," Gratton said. "It's nice to chip in against any team in the league. Our line has got to help out with the offense a little bit. We got a couple lucky breaks, but I thought it was a solid game by both teams."

His key contribution was well-timed because the Lightning's top line of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vinny Prospal, which combined for six goals and 13 points during the first two games, failed to record a point.

"When the big line isn't going, we found a way," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "I thought Grats' line was probably our best line."

The Lightning are 3-0 for the first time since 2003-04, when they opened with six straight wins en route to a Stanley Cup title. The only other time Tampa Bay started 3-0 was 2002-03, when they won the Southeast Division and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

All three of the wins this season have come at home.

Goalie Johan Holmqvist also had a big night Wednesday, making 30 saves. He has started each of Tampa Bay's three games and stopped 69 of 73 shots for a 1.34 goals-against average.

"He made some big saves," Tortorella told the Lightning's official Web site. "(Holmqvist) was very good, and we ended up with some good chances, scored a power-play goal. All three of the games, Holmer looks very confident and has played very well."

Ville Peltonen scored the lone goal Wednesday for the Panthers, who bounced back the following night to record their first win - 3-0 over New Jersey. The Lightning have not played since Wednesday.

Florida started backup goalie Craig Anderson against Tampa Bay in place of Tomas Vokoun, who had allowed nine goals in his first two games. The Panthers acquired Vokoun, who has won at least 25 games in each of his last four seasons, in a June trade with Nashville.

However, Vokoun rebounded nicely against the Devils, stopping 29 shots for his 22nd career shutout.

"It's a new environment," he said. "The people who brought me here expect me to do well. It was a rough start, a couple of tough games."

The Panthers had just four goals coming into Thursday's game, and their 0-3 start matched the worst in franchise history.

"The first few games I don't think we were very good," Florida defenseman Mike Van Ryn said. "We've been building toward this. You know, baby steps."

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 25 '08 FLA 1 at TBL 3 J. Halpern
Mar 22 '08 TBL 2 at FLA 4 O. Jokinen
Feb 02 '08 FLA 3 at TBL 2 R. Zednik
Jan 12 '08 TBL 5 at FLA 3 B. Richards
Nov 07 '07 FLA 1 at TBL 3 M. St. Louis
Nov 05 '07 TBL 3 at FLA 4 D. Booth
Oct 13 '07 TBL 4 at FLA 6 J. Stumpel
Oct 10 '07 FLA 1 at TBL 2 C. Gratton