LBC Game Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning Visit Florida Panthers

The Panthers look to get even in the race for the "Governor's Cup" after losing an earlier match to the Bolts. Can the young guns prove they belong - or will Stamkos and Co. drop the hammer?

Tonight, the Bolts of Tampa Bay will visit the Panthers in Sunrise at the BB&T Center for the second of four contests this season. Tampa Bay defeated Florida 7-2 on October 10th, and the two will meet again on December 23rd in Sunrise and on March 13th back in Tampa Bay. Florida will be playing in the fifth game of a six-game homestand. They've put together a 1-2-1 record thus far, losing at the last second to the Boston Bruins on October 17th, 3-2, defeating the Minnesota Wild, 2-1 in a shootout last Saturday, dropping a shootout on Tuesday to the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, and losing to the NHL's worst team, the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1 on Friday night. After this matchup, they will remain at home to host the the St. Louis Blues on Friday night..

The Lightning just finished a seven-game homestand with five victories, defeating the Panthers, the Los Angeles Kings, the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Buffalo Sabres while dropping matches with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins. They'll stay on the road after this game with matchups against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

A Look Back

These two last met on October 10th in Tampa Bay. The 1-2-0 Panthers were hoping to avoid a third-straight loss to the 2-1-0 Lightning. Brad Boyes and Jonathan Huberdeau lit the lamp for the Cats, while G Jacob Markstrom had a terrible night, allowing six goals on 24 shots in the 7-2 Florida loss.

The Tampa Bay Lightning played their home opener Thursday and celebrated in style, dispatching the Florida Panthers 7-2 at Tampa Bay Times Forum behind a hat trick and an assist from Steven Stamkos.

They were the first three goals of the season for Stamkos, who had two assists in the first three games.

"To be perfectly honest, I think this might be the first time I didn't worry about not having scored," Stamkos said. "Usually I do. If I didn't score one goal, sometimes I have trouble sleeping, thinking about what I should have done. I just kind of had an eerie feeling that tonight was going to be a good night."

Stamkos got one goal in each period, a shorthanded score in the first, an even-strength goal in the second, and a power-play goal in the third. It was his sixth career hat trick. * Full Recap * Box Score


GameTime: 5:00 PM ET, FS-FLA, WQAM, LBC GameThread at 4:30

All-Time Record: Florida is 57-33-10-10 all-time against Tampa Bay, a .609 success rate. It's Florida's best record against any team.

Season Series: Second of four meetings. Tampa Bay leads 1-0-0.


Florida Panthers: 3-7-1, .318, 7 points, on pace for 52 points. Seventh in the Atlantic Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference, tied for 26th in the NHL. Last five: L-L-W-O-L.

Tampa Bay Lightning: 7-3-0, .700, 14 points, on pace for 115 points. Tied for second in the Atlantic Division, tied for second in the Eastern Conference, ninth in the NHL. Last five: W-W-L-W-W.

Common Thread

Florida D Matt Gilroy played 53 games for the Lightning in 2011-12, scoring twice with 15 assists, a plus-two rating, and 16 PIM.

Florida winger Sean Bergenheim played 80 games for Tampa Bay back in 2010-11, scoring 14 goals with 15 assists, an even rating, and 56 PIM.

Panthers Milestones


D Mike Weaver will play in Panthers game number 203, moving him past Bret Hedican into 40th. Shawn Matthias will move into a tie for 25th, tying Johan Garpenlov with his 265th game played.


Marcel Goc will move into the all-time top 50 with his next goal, number 24, tying Dave Gagner. Tomas Kopecky will pass Mike Van Ryn into 48th with his 26th goal. Kris Versteeg tied Mike Hough and Gary Roberts in 45th with a goal last game, his 27th. Tomas Fleischmann currently has 41 goals, and will tie Gord Murphy in 27th all-time with his next.


Matthias has 44 assists, tied with Jody Hull, Chris Gratton, and Ivan Novoseltsev in 46th. Fleischmann and Dmitry Kulikov each have 64 assists, If either of them get their 65th, they will tie captain Ed Jovanovski in 29th. Brian Campbell currently has 73 assists, in 21st place, and will move into the top 20 all-time with one more, tying Johan Garpenlov.


Sergei Samsonov, last spotted in the NHL with the Panthers in 2010-11 (20 games three goals, 11 assists, minus-2, two PIM), turns 35 today.

Probable Starting Lineups

Florida Panthers



Tampa Bay Lightning




Panthers Leaders


Brad Boyes - 4, Marcel Goc, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau -3


Tomas Fleischmann - 7, Brian Campbell - 5, Aleksander Barkov - 4


Tomas Fleischmann - 9, Aleksander Barkov - 7, Brad Boyes - 6


Nick Bjugstad - 52.8% (28-of-53), Marcel Goc - 49.7% (96-of-193), Jesse Winchester - 48.6% (17-of-35)

Shots on Goal

Tomas Fleischmann - 39, Kris Versteeg - 31, Tomas Kopecky, Brad Boyes - 26

Penalty Minutes

Erik Gudbranson - 40, Dmitry Kulikov - 27, Jesse Winchester - 16


Mike Weaver - 32, Erik Gudbranson - 25, Shawn Matthias - 17

Blocked Shots

Mike Weaver - 29, Erik Gudbranson - 22, Tom Gilbert - 18

For the Tampa Bay point of view, head on over to Raw Charge. We'll see you back here tonight for the GameThread, live at 4:30 PM.