The Tampa Bay Lightning face off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in a contest which marks the regular season home opening for the Bolts.
Six days after returning from their eastern European road trip, which saw the Lightning drop the first two games of the season to the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay looks to get on track in the friendly environs of the St. Pete Times Forum against an interdivisional foe.
Tonight’s contest is the first of six meetings between the two clubs as they battle to reach the top of the Southeast Division. Both teams fell out of the playoff picture last season and are looking to return to the top.
The game will mark the home debuts of many new faces for the Lightning. Among those expected to see action for Tampa Bay include heralded rookie Steven Stamkos, defensive stalwart Andrej Meszaros and veterans Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi. Team captain Vincent Lecavalier, along with Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal also are expected to make their home regular season debuts.
Goaltenders Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig were both outstanding throughout the pre-season and in their first two regular season appearances. Coach Barry Melrose, playing his hand close to the vest, has not yet indicated which goalie will be in the net for tonight’s premiere.