Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, Fox SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats
After two games in Sunrise, the series is moving to Tampa for the third game in five days. The teams exchanged victories in the previous two games and remain the two leading teams in the Central Division. A win tonight over the Panthers would allow the Lightning to extend their advantage in the standings.
The Lightning have played two different games against the Panthers so far. The first game on Thursday’s night was probably one of the worst games of the season for the team: the Panthers controlled the pace of the game and generated more scoring chances, while the Bolts played poorly, not only defensively, but also offensively. Brayden Point scored two goals that night, but the rest of the team couldn’t even get close to the opponent’s net, shooting mostly from long-distance, while the Panthers had most of their shots from the spot or both circles.
However, prior to this game the Lightning lost Steven Stamkos, who was dealing with lower-body injury and moreover was placed on the COVID protocol later. Anthony Cirelli also wasn’t able to finish the game due to his own upper-body injury, so the team probably didn’t manage to adopt to sudden changes.
The second game was a little bit different: the Bolts managed to push the game back from their crease and generated more offense at the opposite side of the rink. The Panthers still controlled the possession, but were worse at finishing off their chances comparing to the previous game. On top of that Andrei Vasilevskiy was playing perfectly and could have posted his first shutout of the season, if Luke Schenn didn’t lost concentration late in the third period.
Overall, during the two previous game the Lightning did a great job against the Panthers power play, which was considered the best in the league heading into the series. Florida converted just one power play out of three chances in the first game and zero in the second, despite having one four-minute power play. After two games against the Lightning, the Panthers power play percentage dropped to the fifth position in the league.
Another big part of Saturday’s victory was Tyler Johnson. The Lightning forward were having a slow start of the season, scoring just one goal in 12 previous games, but Anthony Cirelli’s injury allowed him to return to his more natural position of center. In just 13 minutes of the game Johnson scored twice and posted the highest winning percentage at face-offs in the whole team. His line with Blake Coleman and Mathieu Joseph was also the only Lightning line to finish the game with a positive CF%.
Steven Stamkos has been released off the COVID protocol list, but is still day-to-day due to a lower-body injury and it’s not clear if he’s available for tonight’s game. Other than that I expect anymore changes to the line-up, since Saturday’s roster played a very solid game against the Panthers. The Lightning also added Alex Barre-Boulet and Ross Colton to their taxi squad, who could potentially make their debuts for the Lightning if Cirelli and Stamkos won’t be available for a longer period of time.
Steven Stamkos off the COVID protocol list. So he could play Monday if he’s otherwise healthy (had lower body injury)— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) February 14, 2021
After tonight’s game, the Lightning are returning back on the road: the team will play twice against the Dallas Stars at the end of the week and against the Carolina Hurricanes next Monday before coming back to Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos
Blake Coleman - Yanni Gourde - Barclay Goodrow
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph
Pat Maroon - Gemel Smith - Alex Volkov
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn
Florida Panthers Lines
Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair
Jonathan Huberdeau - Alex Wennberg - Patric Hornqvist
Frank Vatrano - Eetu Luostarinen - Owen Tippett
Ryan Lomberg -Noel Acciari - Brett Connoly
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Keith Yandle - Radko Gudas
Markus Nutivaara - Anton Stralman