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Lightning at Panthers preview

Tampa Bay seeks eighth straight win against Florida, sweep of home-and-home series

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

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

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

The Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning look for their eighth consecutive victory against the Florida Panthers when they meet in the second game of their season-opening home-and-home series at BB&T Center on Saturday.

The Lightning, who won 5-2 at Amalie Arena on Thursday, have not lost to the Panthers since they were defeated 5-4 on Oct. 7, 2017.

The game begins a season-long-tying six-game road trip for the Lightning, who don't play at home again until Oct. 19.

Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 25 saves in his Panthers debut Thursday, will make his first home start for Florida. He likely will again face Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 35 saves in the opener for Tampa Bay.

Joel Quenneville, who was named coach of the Panthers on April 8, will be behind the bench for his first home game with Florida.

 

Players to watch

Lightning forward Ondrej Palat, who scored the game-winning goal Thursday, has more goals (eight) against Florida than against any other NHL team.

Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov had a game-high seven shots Thursday.

 

They said it

"We're taking steps forward. But there's so much more room for improvement. There was a little bit of risk in our game, especially in the second period. It's a work in progress to eliminate. It was addressed. The players addressed it. And now we move on to tonight." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

"We've been waiting for this (playing at home) for a long time. There's no better way to do it on home ice to get our first win." -- Panthers center Aleksander Barkov

 

Lightning projected lineup

Steven Stamkos -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Anthony Cirelli -- Alex Killorn

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

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman -- Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano -- Henrik Borgstrom -- Jayce Hawryluk

Dryden Hunt -- Noel Acciari -- Colton Sceviour

Mike Matheson -- Aaron Ekblad

MacKenzie Weegar -- Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle -- Josh Brown

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratched: Denis Malgin, Mark Pysyk

Injured: None

 

Status report

The Lightning did not hold a morning skate. … Point could return during the Canadian leg of Tampa Bay's road trip, Cooper said on Friday. … Hawryluk will replace Malgin on the Panthers' third line. … Weegar will be in the lineup despite missing the final nine minutes Thursday after he left the ice following a check into the boards by Smith, who was assessed a penalty for an illegal check to the head.

 

Stat pack

This will be the first of 15 sets of back-to-back games this season for Tampa Bay, which was 10-0-1 in the first half of back-to-back games last season. The Lightning play at the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. … Florida is 7-2-0 in its past nine home openers.

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