Florida defeated Tampa Bay 6-3 in round one of the teams' two-week grudge match over the final week of the preseason and into the regular season.
But don't fret, Lightning fans, there are still rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5 to come.
The Lightning and Panthers played the first of five-straight games - three in the preseason, two to start the 2019-20 regular season - Tuesday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, the Cats doubling up the Bolts to drop them to 1-3-1 in the preseason.
Florida did the bulk of its damage in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second period, scoring three goals - while also surrendering a goal to Anthony Cirelli - in a span of 3:02 to break open a 1-1 tie game at the first intermission and push ahead 4-2. The Panthers increased their lead to 5-2 by the 14:11 mark of the second when Dominic Toninato scored on the rush over the stick of Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played a full 60 minutes in his 2019 preseason debut and first game since winning the franchise's first-ever Vezina Trophy in the offseason. Vasilevskiy stopped 18 of the 24 shots he faced.
For the first time this preseason, the Lightning scored the opening goal of a game. Alexander Volkov netted it with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle on a rush for his second of the preseason. The goal came at 15:53 of the opening period and put Tampa Bay up 1-0, a lead that was short lived after Frank Vatrano scored shorthanded with :56 seconds to go in the first.
Cirelli briefly put a dent in Florida's second-period surge, answering 1:42 after Aleksander Barkov gave the Panthers their first lead 2-1 by netting the first of his two goals. Mikhail Sergachev had time and space to wrist a shot from the top of the slot on a late second period power play to end the Panthers' run and get the Lightning to within 5-3 at 16:35 of the middle frame.
Denis Malgin netted the only goal of the third period, scoring 3:53 in to account for the 6-3 final.
Volkov continued to state his case for an Opening Night roster spot as one of two Lightning players - Anthony Cirelli the other - to record multiple points in the game with a goal and assist. Carter Verhaeghe, another prospect looking to make the roster, had an assist, as did Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Tampa Bay went the full game without committing a single minor infraction. Only Luke Witkowski's second-period fight against Josh Brown counted against the Lightning on the penalty minutes stat line. The Bolts had committed at least four minor penalties in each of their first four preseason games entering Sunrise.
Florida outshot the Lightning 24-22.
The Lightning and Panthers will go at it again from the BB&T Center Thursday in the penultimate preseason game for both teams.