Skip to main content


Lightning, Capitals excited to start season

by Lonnie Herman /

TAMPA, Fla. –- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their 20th anniversary season by hosting the Washington Capitals at the sold-out Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

It’s not quite business as usual, though, as emotions and nerves were running high in both locker rooms.

“This is not a normal night,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said after the morning skate. “It’s exciting for everyone. The players have been waiting for a long time, the fans have been waiting for a long time and I’ve been waiting for a long time. It’s here and it’s now and we’re all eager to go.”

The day promises to be especially exciting for Cory Conacher, who will be making his NHL debut skating on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell.

“Yeah, it’s hit me,” Connacher said. “I want to act like I’ve been here before but even just walking into the rink tonight will be a great experience.”

Keeping Connacher on even keel is one of Boucher’s challenges.

“Especially him,” Boucher said. “He’s got tons of emotions. The tendency is to get lost in that emotion. We want him to stay steady.”

The season opener marks a new challenge for Alex Ovechkin, playing right wing for the first time in his professional career.

“I have to play on the right side so I’ll do what I have to do,” Ovechkin said. “I see the different angles. For some guys this was a long wait but I played in Russia and I’m in game mode.”

Debuting behind the bench for the Capitals is Adam Oates, who served a season (2009-2010) as an assistant coach with the Lightning and left a lasting impression with Steven Stamkos.

“He was probably one of the coaches I was closest to,” Stamkos said. “He made it easy to communicate with him. It was my second season and I felt that whatever you went through, a great stretch or a tough one, he knew what you were feeling and thinking.”

All season Tampa Bay will be celebrating the 20th season in franchise history. Saturday night, the team will remember its first game, Oct. 7, 1992.

That night, in a cramped and crowded Fairgrounds Expo Hall, the Lightning upset the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3, behind four goals by journeyman Chris Kontos. Kontos, who still holds the record for most goals in a Lightning game, will be in attendance Saturday night.

Tampa Bay


Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Martin St. Louis

Cory Connacher-Vincent Lecavalier-Teddy Purcell

Adam Hall-Nate Thompson-B.J Crombeen

Tom Pyatt-Benoit Pouliot


Eric Brewer-Matthew Carle

Sami Salo-Victor Hedman

Marc-Andre Bergeron-Brian Lee

Keith Aulie


Anders Lindback

Mathieu Garon

Washington Capitals

Marcus Johansson
-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin

Wojtek Wolski-Mike Ribeiro-Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera -Jay Beagle-Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks-Mathieu Perrault-Joey Crabb


Karl Azner-John Carlson

Roman Hamrlik-Mike Green

Jeff Schultz-Tom Poti


Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

View More