Game Day Preview: Game 3, Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers

Florida: 1-1-0 (2PTS)
Tampa Bay: 1-2-1 (3PTS)
Season Series: 0-0-0
Game Time: 7:30 PM EDT
Television: Fox Sports Florida, Sun Sports
Radio: 560 WQAM

It's finally here. The season has already started, but everyone knows the season hasn't really started until your team has had their home opener. Tonight everything old is new again as the Panthers take the ice decked in their new red home sweaters. These aren't throwback sweaters, however. The design is a simplified version of the Reebok Edge blue home sweaters from the past several years. Soon we will bid farewell to the Panthers' JetBlues as it's red ahead; the new gear will available tonight at the arena in what will presumably be enormous queues.


Besides tonight being the home opener, Litter Box Cats and Flamingo Tracks Promotional Products will be hosting many of our regular readers and contributors in the LBC Suite at the BankAtlantic Center. Donny and John will be there fresh off the Florida Panthers Foundation benefit last night where they won some fresh Hartford Whalers Panthers gear.

Ryan will be in town from Pennsylvania, Alex will be in from wherever Alex is in from, and Chris will be holding down the fort here at the site, so if you're watching from home, make sure to stop into the game thread.

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

News and Notes

Last meeting

The teams met twice in the pre-season, but the last game that counted was the Lightning's home season closer on April 8. The Lightning got their second win of the season against the Cats, with Vinny Lecavalier scoring the game winner and Dwayne Roloson picking up the win in net. It was only the second of the season series decided in regulation, the first having been the Panthers 6-0 win in their home opener.

Last Game

The Panthers lost 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Pens home opener. The Penguins were once again without star center Evgeny Malkin, who missed a couple of games with a sore knee, and defenseman Brooks Orpik. Oh, and some guy named Sidney Crosby but we all knew that. The Pens, even though coming off a Western Canada road trip, showed why they are one of the best teams in the league and a threat every night no matter who is the lineup by playing a simple, disciplined game. The Panthers tried to play a bit too fancy instead of getting the pucks to the net and were sloppy and disjointed at times.


Yesterday, it was announced that the lines will be the same again, with the possible substitution of Keaton Ellerby for Erik Gudbranson.


Healthy Scratches

  • D Keaton Ellerby or D Erik Gudbranson

Starting goaltenders

The Panthers will once again start Jose Theodore. As of post time, the Lightning had not decided the starting goaltender. Given that Dwayne Roloson has given up 11 goals in his last two starts, it could easily be Mathieu Garon between the pipes this evening. Especially if they want Roloson to start in the home opener on Monday.


  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Booth-Kopecky-Upshall
  3. Bergenheim-Goc-Skille
  4. Bradley-Matthias-Carter
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Jovanovski-Gudbranson/Ellerby
  3. Kulikov-Weaver

UPDATE (12:05): Coach Dineen has stated that there will be no changes to the lineup tonight.

UPDATE (12:13): G Mathieu Garon off the ice first at morning skate. Convention holds that he will be the starting goaltender this evening.