Game 37 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Florida Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning (22-11-3, 47 PTS), which directed enough rubber Justin Peters’ way to avoid a disappointing result on Saturday, is paying a visit to a longtime divisional foe in the Florida Panthers (14-18-5, 33 PTS), which took the initial lead before allowing and sinking under the weight of three first-period goals against to Winnipeg on Friday.

Other obligations have conspired to prevent a more extended write-up but Florida, which has come on a bit since the firing Kevin Dineen and is 7-3-0 over its last ten games, is another curious opponent. The club has had understandable difficulty overcoming the distinct double-whammy of struggling to generate offense (it will enter tonight without a single player yet to reach the 20-point plateau) and keeping the puck out of its own net. These troubles have been magnified by its special teams results: if Tampa Bay’s power play has been mostly woeful for a long stretch now, Florida’s has been consistently anemic all season and it has also been, well, hammered on the penalty kill thus far.

There are bright spots for the Panthers, of course. The kids (forwards Aleksander Barvkov, Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau as well as defenseman Dylan Olsen) are holding their own, the team has made significant strides in the nightly possession battle under new bench boss Peter Horachek and, though Jacob Markstrom is still yet to emerge as a clear-cut starting option at this level, there hasn’t been a problem in net with Tim Thomas (who’s currently injured) and Scott Clemmensen (tonight’s starter) providing a stable, if unspectacular, goaltending tandem.

The Lightning very well may have had plenty of success against the Panthers in recent seasons but if Tampa Bay wants to gift itself another couple points to store for leaner times, it will have to best a surprisingly scrappy, despite its limitations, opponent eager to play The Grinch before the league-wide Christmas break commences.

NOTES


Season Series


TAMPA BAY LEADS 2-0
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Rosters


LIGHTNING PANTHERS
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STATPACK

 

Team

TOI, POSSESSION & SCORING TOTALS
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POSSESSION & SCORING RATES
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POSSESSION, SCORING & SHOOTING PERCENTAGES
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Special Teams

POWER PLAY
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PENALTY KILL
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Goaltending

ON-ICE TOTALS
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ON-ICE RATES
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ON-ICE PERCENTAGES
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Scoring

LIGHTNING
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PANTHERS
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Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

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