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Ouch and the second half of the Sunshine Skate; Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers preview

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The Panthers get a player back in the lineup and the Lightning lose a trio for tonight in a game that completes a home-and-home series.

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports


Where:
BB&T Arena, Sunrise, Florida | When: 7:30 PM EST
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: Sun Sports Fox Sports Florida Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Litter Box Cats

"Ouch." That's a pretty fitting summary for the antics of Saturday night as well as what will set the narrative for this game preview, "Ouch."  It doesn't just apply for the Tampa Bay Lightning who are affected by it but for the Florida Panthers who will see a lineup change by way of getting over a "ouch" of their own.

In Saturday's game preview, it was mentioned that the Panthers Alekander Barkov had been out and on injured reserve since late October.  Well, if signs from Panthers morning skate are to tell us anything (and reports have said it since yesterday) Barkov will return to the Florida lineup tonight. Barkov, who was selected 2nd in the 2013 NHL entry draft and just before Jonathan Drouin, has 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games played for Florida this season. The Cats are 4-4-2 in the 10 game since Barkov fell out of the lineup. Will this amount to an addition to the Panthers lineup that distances them from the claw-match effort of Saturday at the Amalie? Perhaps, and perhaps the Lightning have their own limitations brought on by Saturday's game?

Last night you probably caught wind of the news the club recalled Mike Blunden and Jonathan Marchessault from the Syracuse Crunch. This is evidence of the "ouch" and how it has its hand on the Lightning at the moment. Tyler Johnson took a check late on Saturday and left the ice to deal with the injury sustained from it. Meanwhile Cedric Paquette (who scored earlier in the game) and Jonathan Drouin aggravated lingering injuries that have been hampering them and helped influence their relegation to 4th line ice-time.

So with three lineup players hampered by hurt and out tonight, the recalls (and recent recall Matt Taormina) will be inserted into the lineup. Unless something changes between now and pregame skate, it looks like the 11/7 roster split will be deployed for this one.

In the crease for Tampa Bay tonight is Andrei Vasilevskiy, who will try to rectify his disappointing last start where he was lit up for 3 goals on 26 shots faced against the Buffalo Sabres (he was pulled for the fourth goal suffered by the Lightning in that one).

Roberto Luongo gets the start for the Panthers tonight. His last effort was sound in general but... well; he did give up 4 goals on 28 shots. Both netminders, Lu and Ben Bishop, weren't anywhere near fantastic in the save-percentage department. I don't know if we're likely to see that again tonight.

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