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game preview

Panthers at Lightning preview

Bobrovsky, Quenneville to debut for Florida; Kucherov leads Tampa Bay

by Corey Long / Independent Correspondent

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

7 p.m. ET; FS-F, SUN, NHL.TV


The Game

Sergei Bobrovsky will make his debut for the Florida Panthers against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the season opener for both teams at Amalie Arena on Thursday. 

The two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie agreed to a seven-year contract with Florida on July 1.

Joel Quenneville, who won the Stanley Cup three times with the Chicago Blackhawks and is second in NHL history with 890 wins, will be coaching his first game with the Panthers.

The Lightning, who tied an NHL record with 62 wins last season, have won their past five season openers, the longest active streak in the NHL. This is the third straight year they have opened at home against the Panthers. 

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov led the NHL with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) last season, when he was voted winner of the Hart Trophy as the League's most valuable player. 


Players to Watch

Bobrovsky had 37 wins and led the NHL with nine shutouts last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is 5-5-1 in 13 starts against the Lightning. 

Kucherov has 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 22 games against the Panthers. 


They said it

"I think you need to keep your head clear and just focus on the game, it's just another hockey game no matter how you look at it. It's special to come back, it's fun, I'm just trying to enjoy it. The goal is to beat these guys at the end of the season, so every point is key." -- Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman

"It's always fun…your home opener…the nerves, whether it's your first game of 900th game. I mean the home openers are always really exciting. You get those butterflies before the game. We're anxious, we're ready. It's been a long camp and we're ready to play some meaningful games." -- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman -- Vincent Trocheck -- Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano -- Henrik Borgstrom -- Denis Malgin

Dryden Hunt -- Noel Acciari -- Colton Sceviour

Mike Matheson -- Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle -- Josh Brown

MacKenzie Weegar -- Anton Stralman

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratched: Mark Pysyk, Jayce Hawryluk

Injured: None


Lightning projected lineup

Steven Stamkos -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Ondrej Palat

Carter Verhaeghe -- Yanni Gourde -- Mathieu Joseph

Pat Maroon -- Gemel Smith -- Luke Witkowski

Victor Hedman -- Kevin Shattenkirk 

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn -- Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy 

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Jan Rutta

Injured: Brayden Point (hip surgery), Cedric Paquette (upper body)


Status report

Point participated in the morning skate; Paquette was not on the ice. … Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Point looks like he's ready to play but will have to be cleared. 


Stat pack

This is the sixth time the Lightning and Panthers have met in the season opener. The Lightning are 4-1-0 in those five openers; the Panthers are 1-1-3. …Vasilevskiy led the NHL last season with 39 wins.

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