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Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning - Game 51 Preview

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Florida: 24-15-11 (59PTS)
Tampa Bay: 22-23-5 (49PTS)
Season Series: 3-1-1 Tampa Bay
Game Time: 7:00 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, Sun Sports
Radio: 560 WQAM

Tonight is the last game of the season between the Panthers and Lightning. The Panthers have pretty much owned the Lightning since the Cats came into the league, but this season marks the first season since 2007-08 that the Panthers haven't won the season series. The two teams tied that year. Conversely, the Lightning have the chance to win their first season series against the Panthers since the 2003-04 season. One point for the Lightning will clinch the series, while a Panthers regulation victory would leave the teams tied. Of course, what matters more to each team is picking up the two points for a win. The Panthers again have a slim lead in the Southeast Division and want to hold it while the Lightning are still nine points out of a playoff spot with 32 games left.

More from our Tampa Bay cohorts at Raw Charge.
Panthers vs Lightning coverage at SB Nation.
SB Nation Preview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

The Lightning won the both games in a home-and-home series Thanksgiving week, 2-1 in OT in Sunrise and 5-1 in Tampa.

Last game

The Panthers edged the Jets 2-1 on Friday for their second win this week. Sean Bergenheim scored the game winner off a great pass from Marcel Goc from behind the net.


Lineup

There was once again bad news from the Panthers yesterday as both Jack Skille and Marco Sturm were returned to the injured reserve list. Skille came back too soon and needs to spend a couple more weeks strengthening his shoulder, while Sturm allegedly has a lower body injury that sounds serious. Jacob Markstrom is skating again and expected to be ready to play again in about two weeks. There was speculation that Jose Theodore might play this weekend, but Brian Foster remains with the team.

Injuries

  • F Jack Skille (shoulder), 1/22, two weeks
  • F Marco Sturm (lower body), 2/2, unknown
  • F Scottie Upshall (core), 2/1, 6 to 8 weeks
  • G Jacob Markstrom (knee), 1/7, 4 to 6 weeks
  • D Ed Jovanovski (hand), 1/16, week to week
  • D Dmitry Kulikov (knee), 1/21, 6 to 8 weeks
  • G Jose Theodore (knee), 2/1,day to day

Possible Scratches

  • None

Starting goaltenders:

Scott Clemmensen will be the first Panthers goaltender to play in games on consecutive games this season. Clemmer is 5-2-0 against the Lightning, with a 2.30 GAA and .922 save percentage. He will face Mathieu Garon. Garon is 2-0-1 against the Panthers, with a 2.07 GAA and .929 save percentage.

Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Bergenheim-Goc-Samuelsson
  3. Matthias-Madden-Kopecky
  4. Bradley-Santorelli-Barch
Defense
  1. Campbell-Gudbranson
  2. Garrison-Weaver
  3. Strachan-Ellerby