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GameDay Caterwaul: Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

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First of two as Cats and Bolts clash for home-ice advantage

Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Panthers ​(35-14-5 75P) vs Lightning (36-14-3 75P)

  • WHEN: 7:00 p.m. ET
  • WHERE: BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL
  • ON THE TUBE: Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports SUN, ESPN+
  • ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
  • SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #GoBolts, #TBLvsFLA, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
  • ENEMY INTEL: Raw Charge
  • FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 7 of 8 (3-2-1)
  • LAST MEETING: FLA 5, @TBL 3 - (Recap) - 4/17/2021
  • NEXT MEETING: May 10, 2021
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Bobrovsky (18-8-2 .904/ 2.97 0SO) vs Vasilevskiy (31-8-1 .928/ 2.10 5SO)
  • PLAYER STATS: Florida / Tampa Bay

Scouting Report

Despite this being the tail end of a back-to-back for the Tampa Bay Lightning, we’re rolling with last year’s Stanley Cup Champions to beat the Florida Panthers in this one. Now that the Battle of Florida will be a first-round matchup, this means this game could have a ton of implications. Both teams will attempt to set a precedent for the upcoming playoffs and secure themselves home ice advantage, expect this one to be a close game. In six meetings, these teams have split the season series three wins apiece. The Lightning boast the fourth-best goal differential in the entire league at +45; the Panthers are tied for ninth with a +29 goal differential. The Lightning have done an unbelievable job defensively this season only allowing 2.47 goals per game, the fifth fewest. Florida has allowed 2.78 goals per game, which is hovering around the league average. Tampa Bay has been blessed with great goaltending while the Panthers’ goaltending has been inconsistent, to say the least.

With Andrei Vasilevskiy getting the start in the crease for the Lightning, expect them to walk away with a win. He has had an incredible season posting a 31-8-1 record with a 2.10 GAA and .928 SVP with five shutouts. Every time he starts, the Lightning are expected to win. Another difference maker in this one could come down to special teams. Tampa Bay has the sixth best powerplay, the Panthers only have the 12th best. Additionally, the Lightning have the sixth-best penalty kill while the Panthers have the ninth-worst penalty kill. Not much separates these two teams, but if the Lightning have good goaltending and have a solid night on their special teams they should get the win.

Full preview at Pickswise

Saturday in the Central (Standings/Panthers Playoff Chances):

  • DETROIT (19-27-9 47P) at COLUMBUS (17-26-12 46P) 7 p.m.
  • CAROLINA (36-10-8 80P) at NASHVILLE (29-23-2 60P) 8 p.m.

Idle: DAL (58P), CHI (52P)

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