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Panthers try to snap skid against Florida rival

by Mike G. Morreale

PANTHERS (1-4-0) at LIGHTNING (4-1-0)


Season series: This is the first of five games between the NHL's two Florida-based teams. The Lightning dropped the first two games of last season's season series but rebounded with four straight triumphs, including two that came after regulation.

Big story: The Panthers, who have dropped their last four in regulation after beating the Carolina Hurricanes in their season opener, never lost more than three straight regulation games in 2011-12 when they won their first-ever Southeast Division title. The last time the Panthers began a season 1-4-0 was in 2009, when they finished 14th in the Eastern Conference and 11 points out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope:

Panthers: Florida dropped a 7-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday in Sunrise. Peter Mueller scored the lone goal for the home team, which has been outscored 18-3 since scoring a 5-1 victory against the Hurricanes on Jan. 19. Jose Theodore started in net for the Panthers, but was pulled for Scott Clemmensen to start the second period after yielding three goals on nine shots.

"Time is short here and obviously we're not taking good advantage of it," coach Kevin Dineen said after Saturday's defeat.

Lightning: The Lightning, 3-0-0 on home ice, are in the midst of a season-high five-game homestand. Steven Stamkos (three goals, seven assists), who had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, enters with a five-game point streak. Additionally, Vincent Lecavalier, Eric Brewer, Victor Hedman and Teddy Purcell also scored for the Lightning, who spotted the Flyers a 1-0 lead less than a minute into the game before scoring five unanswered goals.

Lecavalier, the Lightning captain, also picked up his 22nd career fighting major and first since Feb. 3, 2009, when he tangled with Luke Schenn 5:09 into the first period.

Who's hot: Lightning rookie Cory Conacher has tallied a point in four of his team's five games to open the season. … Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell not only leads the team with four points (two goals, two assists), but he also averages a team-high 25:06 in ice time.

Injury report: Florida forwards Kris Versteeg (groin), Stephen Weiss (lower body) and Tomas Fleischmann (skate cut) are questionable. Forwards Marcel Goc (ankle) and Sean Bergenheim (groin) and defenseman Erik Gudbranson (shoulder) are doubtful. … The Lightning placed defensemen Mattias Ohlund (knee) and Matt Taormina (upper body) on injured reserve.

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