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Lightning (4-1-0, preseason) vs. Panthers (2-1-2, preseason)
AM 970 WFLA
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers, 5-4, thanks to forward Jonathan Drouin’s third-round shootout goal for the Bolts last Saturday. Thursday’s “home” game at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida, will be the second time the two teams meet in exhibition play in 2013-14. They will meet one final time on Saturday night in Sunrise, FL. The first regular season game between the Atlantic Division foes is slated for October 10 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay looks to get back on the winning side of things after beginning the season 4-0, before being handed a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. While playing in Estero, Florida, the game is considered the last home game of the preseason for the Lightning, who have previously won three home games thus far. The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos notched three points in their last tilt between the Panthers, while Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone also tallied their first goals of the preseason. Last facing the Bolts, Florida looks to win their first game since a two-game sweep of the Predators on Monday, September 16.
LIGHTNING – Closing out training camp at the home of their ECHL affiliate the Florida Everblades this week at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida, the Bolts play their sixth of seven preseason games this season. Dropping their first game this year, 2-1, to the Predators on Tuesday, Tampa Bay was not able to score through 59 minutes of play in the game. Drouin won the initial faceoff with just 50 seconds remaining, dishing a pass to Stamkos, who netted the goal, which was one of just three shots in the final frame. The rally fell short for the Lightning however, in netminder Anders Lindback’s return to Bridgestone Arena for the first time since being traded two years ago. Malone, who is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury said Wednesday it was more of a body maintenance day and that he expects to play tonight.
PANTHERS – Florida plays the second of back-to-back games versus the Lightning Thursday. Trailing 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 during Saturday’s game at the Times Forum, the Cats managed to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in the game compliments of Bobby Butler, but ultimately fell in the skills competition for the second time of the preseason. Right-winger Kris Versteeg will see his first NHL game in more than seven months after injuring his knee in a game versus the Lightning on March 12. He was medically cleared on Monday. Goaltender Tim Thomas, who took last season off, is expecting to be on tonight’s Panthers roster.
Despite taking the loss, goaltender Anders Lindback finished with 31 saves on 33 shots in his last game against Nashville. The penalty-kill unit also did not allow one goal on five opportunities for the Predators. Stamkos currently leads all Bolts players with five points (three goals, two assists) and has scored one goal in each of his first three games.
LIGHTNING – Forward Ryan Malone, Day-to-Day (Upper-Body); PANTHERS – No Reported Injuries.
Blueliner Matt Gilroy spent 53 games with the Lightning during the 2011-12 season, amassing 17 points (two goals, 15 assists), before being traded to the Ottawa Senators now plays for the Florida Panthers.
The #TBLightning’s roster currently stands at 36 after releasing 22 players last weekend.
Twenty-six different players have tallied at least one point through five preseason games for the Bolts thus far. Forwards @BConnolly8 and @RealStamkos91 both have three goals each, while Valtteri Filppula has added four helpers in three games.
Tampa Bay’s one goal in their last contest was the lowest goal count in five games of exhibition play in 2013-14.
Defenseman Andrej Sustr’s 24:00 of ice time Tuesday led all #TBLightning skaters.
“If we have a penalty kill that’s in the high-80’s or above and we’re not scoring [shorthanded] then I’ll be okay with that. I think part of having a good penalty kill though, is having the threat to score because then that kind of puts a power-play unity potentially on edge. If we can do that, then that just helps our penalty kill. It’s not necessarily the goal; it’s more keeping the puck out of our own net. Our penalty kill’s been pretty good in the preseason and we’ve created some chances, we just haven’t scored.” – Head Coach Jon Cooper on Tampa Bay’s Penalty Kill.
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