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Tampa Bay 6-2-2; Florida 7-3-0
Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
This is the third of four meetings this season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers and the last visit to BB&T Center. The Bolts have won the first two games of the series with their intrastate rival by a combined score of 11-5.
Currently on a three-game road winning streak, the Lightning have not lost in regulation to the Panthers in their past eight trips to Sunrise, Florida going 6-0-2 dating back to the 2010-11 season.
LIGHTNING – Amidst picking up points in eight of their last nine games the Lightning face the Panthers after winning five of their last six. The winning trend continued Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with two of the Lightning’s three goals being scored from the blue line.
Victor Hedman tied the score at one in the closing minutes of the first, while Martin St. Louis’ power-play goal in the third sent the game into overtime. Radko Gudas then layed a hard check on Jeff Skinner in the neutral zone to turn over the puck, as he then sent a slapshot past first star of the night, goaltender Justin Peters.
In the contest the Bolts reached new season highs in shots on goal in a period (19) and in a game (50), as they begin to raise wonders of how good they can really be once Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia) returns to the lineup. In his absence Tampa Bay has gone 10-6-3.
PANTHERS – Florida has begun to raise eyebrows with some impressive play as of late that includes winning seven of 10 games in December. The Panthers had strung together five straight wins before losing to the Winnipeg Jets, 5-2, Friday. Four of those victories on their recent streak came without starting netminder Tim Thomas, who has been suffering from a reoccurring groin problem.
Seven of the Panthers next eight games will be against Eastern Conference opponents and will serve as a good measuring stick of Florida’s progress.
Starting with his two-goal game last Tuesday against the New York Islanders, Valtteri Filppula has posted points in four straight games. Filppula’s two markers in the eventual shootout win versus the Islanders was the first time in franchise history that Tampa Bay has won a game when trailing by two in the final three minutes of regulation.
12/18 – Signed defenseman J.P. Cote to an NHL contract and recalled him to Tampa Bay
12/18 – Reassigned forward Dana Tyrell to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
12/18 – Reassigned defenseman Matt Taormina to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).
Lightning – D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Eric Brewer (upper body, day-to-day), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Ryan Malone (lower body, out), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Panthers – D Matt Gilroy (lower body, out), D Ed Jovanovski (hip surgery, out) G Tim Thomas (groin, day-to-day), F Jesse Winchester (bruised hand, out)
Twitter Stat Pack:
Saturday’s game was just the fifth time in #TBLightning franchise history that the #Bolts reached the 50-shot plateau in a game.
The #Bolts @MattCarle25 is one assist shy of 200 in his #NHL career.
With four points in his past seven games @TJohnny09 has also logged 19+ minutes of ice time over his past nine contest.
The #TBLightning haven’t lost to the #FlaPanthers in regulation since the 2010-11 season at BB&T Center, going (6-0-2) in that span.
The #Bolts @BenBishop30 is second in the #NHL for wins (19) and ranks fourth in the league with a 1.96 GAA and .934 save percentage.
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