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Lightning Open 16th NHL Season Oct. 4th Vs. New York Rangers in Prague; Home Opener Set for Oct. 11th Vs. Carolina

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning will open their 16th National Hockey League season on Saturday, October 4 when they face the New York Rangers at noon (ET) in O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. The teams will face off again at noon (ET) in Prague the following day as part of the NHL Premiere Series.

The Lightning will open their 2008-09 home schedule on October 11 when the Southeast Division rival Carolina Hurricanes kick off of five-game Lightning home-stand that also includes visits from the New York Islanders (Thursday, 10/16), Minnesota Wild (Saturday, 10/18), Atlanta Thrashers (Tuesday, 10/21) and San Jose Sharks (Saturday, 10/25).

Holiday highlights at the St. Pete Times Forum include a meeting with the New York Rangers the day before Thanksgiving (11/26, 7:30 p.m.), a visit by the Florida Panthers two days after Christmas (12/27, 7:30 p.m.), a meeting with the Dallas Stars on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (1/19, 7:30 p.m.), a divisional battle with Washington on Valentine’s Day (2/14, 7:30 p.m.) and a St. Patrick’s Day meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs (3/17, 7:30 p.m.). A Lightning game will also be the center of the party during Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest when the New York Islanders invade the St. Pete Times Forum on February 7 (7:30 p.m.), and the Philadelphia Flyers will help kick off Super Bowl weekend in Tampa when they visit on Friday, January 30(7:30 p.m.).

Of the Lightning’s 40 home dates at the St. Pete Times Forum, 24 will take place on Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. Tampa Bay will play in 16 back-to-back situations in 2007-08 (including the NHL Premiere Series), with one set at home and nine on the road. Tampa Bay’s regular season concludes on Saturday, April 11 at Atlanta.

The best way to buy 2008-09 tickets is through a Lightning ticket plan with full-season tickets starting as low as $499, and the Lightning have also released 300 lower level season tickets for as low as $41 per game! A single-game ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. For more information regarding ticket packages and pricing call 813.301.6600. For group information call 813.301.6900.

A change to the schedule format for the 2008-09 season means each club in the Eastern Conference will only play the other clubs in its division a total of six times instead of eight. The Lightning will continue to play the other clubs in the Eastern Conference four times, and they will play each team in the Western Conference at least once. Tampa Bay will play home-and-home series’ against Minnesota, San Jose and Colorado while only facing the other 12 teams from the West once each.

Other highlights of the home schedule include a visit by the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings (Nov. 13), three meetings with the cross-state rival Florida Panthers (Nov. 18, Dec. 27, Jan. 17) and three visits by Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (Feb. 14, March 19, April 9). Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Eastern Conference Champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit the St. Pete Times Forum March 3 and April 7.

At the Forum

The Lightning will play host to a six-game home-stand and a pair of five-game home-stands this season. The six-game stand is Feb. 7 (NY Islanders), Feb. 10 (Atlanta), Feb. 12 (Toronto), Feb. 14 (Washington), Feb. 17 (Chicago) and February 19 (New Jersey).

On the road

The 2008-09 season will include nine road trips of two or more games and only five single-game trips. The longest Lightning trip of the season will be a five-game journey from November 5-12 (New Jersey, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Washington, Florida).

Back to back

The Lightning will play 16 sets of back-to-back games this season, nine with both games on the road, one with both games at home, three with the first game at home and three with the first game on the road. The first set of back-to-back games after the NHL Premiere Series will be at New Jersey on Wednesday, Nov. 5 and at the New York Rangers on Thursday, Nov. 6.

Monthly breakdown

Month Home Away Total
October 6 3 9
November 6 8 14
December 5 8 13
January 7 7 14
February 7 5 12
March 8 7 15
April 2 3 5

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