Florida's two NHL teams will meet for the fourth and final time this season tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightning have won all three meetings against the Panthers, although the Cats managed to extend the Bolts to a shootout, losing 4-3, on October 27th. Tampa Bay won by five in each of the other two meetings.
We'll get our first look at new backup goaltender Dan Ellis tonight. Ellis wasn't having the best of campaigns with Dallas before coming over in the Tim Thomas trade, and life won't get any easier for the veteran keeper playing behind Florida's porous defense.
The Lightning will counter with workhorse Ben Bishop, who will be looking to post his 30th win of the season.
Forward Quinton Howden and defenseman Alex Petrovic are the most recent members of the Rampage to be recalled. Howden will be suiting up for his first game of the season with the Cats, while Petrovic has appeared in five games so far. Mike Mottau was sent back to the Rampage and Sean Bergenheim joins the ailing Jesse Winchester and Erik Gudbranson in the Cats' growing infirmary.
The playoff-bound Lightning come in losers of five straight (0-3-2) and will be looking to get back in the win column versus their weaker neighbor to the south. Bolts' superstar Steven Stamkos has yet to pick up a point since returning to the lineup three games ago. Facing the Panthers could be just what Stamkos needs to get reignited.
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. and the LBC GameThread fires up a half hour prior, so be there or be square.