The Tampa Bay Lightning will celebrate a milestone on Tuesday, January 24 as they face off against the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m., Sun Sports, WDAE 620 AM), playing their 500th regular season home game. Since debuting in Tampa Bay for the 1992-93 season, the team has played home games at Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds (1992-93), the Thunderdome (1993-96) and the St. Pete Times Forum (1996-present).
The Lightning have faced the Panthers 29 times of the 499 games at home and have posted a 11-12-6 record against them. During the past five seasons though, Tampa Bay has a 7-2-2 record in 11 contests at the St. Pete Times Forum against its cross-state rivals. Tampa Bay won the only previous home meeting this season, 2-1, on October 8 as Martin St. Louis
and Fredrik Modin tallied goals for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay has seen their share of success when playing milestone games at home. In their 100th home game on March 27, 1995 Tampa Bay downed the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, in overtime. Petr Klima scored the winner in the extra frame and Darren Puppa made 29 saves.
In their 200th game in Tampa Bay on November 26, 1997 the Lightning tied the Colorado Avalanche 3-3 as Alex Selivanov tied the score to send the game to overtime and Puppa made 35 stops. In their 400th home game Tampa Bay notched a 4-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that saw Vincent Lecavalier
score a hat trick, including one on the power play and the game-winner.
Tuesday night will feature a game of Celebrity Score-O with Lightning founder and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito, Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Shane Stafford, Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall, former Buccaneer quarterback Shaun King and more. Each celebrity that can shoot a puck past the '500' in goal will earn a $500 donation on behalf of the Lightning to the charity of their choice. Those who miss will earn a consolation of $250. A highlight video commemorating the Lightning's 14 years in Tampa Bay will also be shown on the Jumbo-Tron prior to the game.
The Lightning skated in their 1,000th regular season game on January 17 in a 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at the STAPLES Center. Martin St. Louis
, Lecavalier, Ruslan Fedotenko and Norm Milley scored goals for Tampa Bay while John Grahame stopped 22 shots. Vaclav Prospal also had two assists.