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Lightning vs. Panthers: Projected lines, injuries

The Lightning open the 2017-18 season on Friday night vs. the Panthers

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Lightning open the 2017-18 NHL season on at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at AMALIE Arena when they take on Atlantic Division rivals Florida. See below for projected lines, starting goalie and injury updates. 

Projected Lines from Friday's morning skate 

Forwards

Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Gabriel Dumont/JT Brown 

Defense 

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi 

Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr 

Slater Koekkoek - Jake Dotchin

Goalie

Andrei Vasilevskiy expected to start 

FRIDAY'S MATCHUP
Tampa Bay opens the 2017-18 season by hosting the Florida Panthers at AMALIE Arena...The Lightning open the season at home for the fourth-consecutive season...The Bolts have won three-straight season openers, including last season's 6-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings...Tampa Bay opens the season against Florida for the fourth time in franchise history, the Lightning defeating Florida in 2014 (3-2 at home in OT) and 2002 (4-3 at Florida in OT) and falling to the Pantherse in 1998 (5-1 at Florida)...The Lightning went 2-1-1 against Florida in 2016-17, winning both games at home and dropping both games in Sunrise...Ondrej Palat (3 goals), Nikita Kucherov (2 goals, assist) and former Bolt Jonathan Drouin (3 assists) led the Lightning in scoring last season versus Florida...Tampa Bay is 7-1-1 in its last niine home games against Florida...The Lightning are 31-21-6 with six ties all-time at home against the Panthers...The Bolts are 10-5-2 versus Florida over the last four seasons and are 52-51-12 with 10 ties all-time overall against the Panthers.

TONIGHT'S STORYLINES
The Lightning are 15-7-0 with two ties (.667) all-time in season openers, the best winning percentage in such contests in NHL history...The Bolts are 11-3-0 with two ties all-time in season openers at home, one of the losses (2-1 vs. NYR in 2008-09) taking place at the O2 Arena in Prague in a contest that was a technically a home game for the Lightning...Tampa Bay is 14-7-2 with one tie all-time in home openers and have won five-consecutive home openers...The Lightning finished the 2016-17 season in fifth place in the Atlantic Division at 94 points with a 42-30-10 record, one point out of a playoff spot, ending a stretch of three-consecutive seasons qualifying for the postseason...The Lightning have won 40-plus games four-consecutive seasons entering 2017-18, the longest stretch of 40-plus wins seasons in franchise history.

INJURIES
Current injuries:
Michael Bournival - Undisclosed (DAY-TO-DAY)
Erik Condra - Back (DAY-TO-DAY)
 

TRANSACTIONS
Oct. 2 -- Assigned F Cory Conacher to AHL Syracuse
 

IN THE NIK OF TIME

Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov recorded career highs for goals (40), assists (45), points (85), power-play goals (17), powerplay points (32) and game-winning goals (7) in 2016-17...Kucherov led the Lightning for goals, points, power-play goals and gamewinning goals in 2016-17...Kucherov was selected for his first NHL All-Star Game in 2017 and was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team following the season...After netting his 40th goal on April 7 at MTL, Kucherov became just the sixth Russian player all-time in NHL history 23 years old or younger to reach the 40-goal milestone in a single season, joining Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny...Kucherov's 40 goals were the most by a Bolt since Steven Stamkos scored 43 in 2014-15 and were the eighth-most in a single season in Lightning history...Kucherov finished the 2016-17 season ranked tied for second in the NHL for goals.

NHL GOAL LEADERS (2016-17)
1. Sidney Crosby (PIT) - 44
  T-2. Nikita Kucherov (TBL) - 40
T-2. Auston Matthews (TOR) - 40
T-4. Brad Marchand (BOS) - 39
T-4. Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) - 39

Kucherov finished 2016-17 ranked tied for fifth in the NHL for scoring, the highest ranking for a Bolt since Martin St. Louis paced the league for scoring (60 points) and Steven Stamkos ranked second (57 points) in 2012-13...From Feb. 17 through the end of the 2016- 17 regular season, Kucherov led the NHL for scoring (19-17--36 in 25 games)...Kucherov ranked tied for first in the NHL for power-play goals along with Brayden Schenn (PHI) and Alex Ovechkin (WSH)...Kucherov ranked third in the NHL for power-play points in 2016- 17...Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Kucherov ranks fourth in the NHL for cumulative plus-minus (+60)

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