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Panthers at Lightning preview

Stamkos playing first regular-season game in almost 11 months; Boughner making coaching debut for Florida

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

PANTHERS (0-0-0) at LIGHTNING (0-0-0)

7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-F, NHL.TV 

 

The Game

Center Steven Stamkos will play his first regular-season game in almost 11 months when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena.

Stamkos missed the final 65 games last season after he tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 15, 2016.

"I'd say I was probably a little more nervous for the first exhibition game to be honest," Stamkos said. "That's kind of the first taste of the game in a long time. I think it's the normal anxiousness for the home opener and getting that first one under our belt."

Center Ryan Callahan, who missed 64 games last season because of two hip surgeries, will play for the Lightning. Defensemen Mikhail Sergachev, the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NHL draft, and Dan Girardi along with forward Chris Kunitz will make their debuts Tampa Bay.

Bob Boughner will make his debut as Panthers coach. Boughner, 46, who was an assistant with the San Jose Sharks each of the past two seasons, was hired on June 12.

 

Players to watch

Panthers center Nick Bjugstad has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 13 regular-season games against the Lightning.

Much of the focus will be on Stamkos, who had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 17 games last season prior to the injury. He has played 42 games against the Panthers and has 27 goals and 48 points against them, each his most against any NHL team.

 

They said it

"It's been a long wait, maybe a little bit too long. It was pretty tough to see the other guys plays the last two days. I wanted to [play] too but now it's our time and we're ready." -- Barkov on waiting until the third day of the season to play their first game

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Jamie McGinn -- Vincent Trocheck -- Radim Vrbata

Connor Brickley -- Jared McCann -- Nick Bjugstad

Micheal Haley -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Mark Pysyk

Ian McCoshen -- Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Denis Malgin, Owen Tippett, MacKenzie Weegar 

Injured: None

 

Lightning projected lineup

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Tyler Johnson -- Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz -- Cedric Paquette -- Gabriel Dumont

Victor Hedman -- Dan Girardi

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Andrej Sustr

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: J.T. Brown, Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin

Injured: Michael Bournival (undisclosed), Erik Condra (back)

 

Status report

It's uncertain if Dotchin is scratched as punishment for violating a team rule during training camp. "You have 23 guys, 20 get to play," Cooper said. "You've probably heard this answer -- but not everyone is going to play every single night." ... Boughner said he will let Tippett participate in warmups and hopes to get him in the lineup soon. "I want him to watch and be prepared," Boughner said. "I expect when he gets in there, he's going to be a good player for us."

 

Stat pack

The Lightning are 15-7-0 with two ties in season openers and have won their past five openers at Amalie Arena. ... The Panthers are 11-7-1 with two ties in season openers and 5-0-1 in their past six. ...The Panthers went 2-1-1 against the Lightning last season.

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