Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers: GAME #79
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Florida Live Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, HULU
Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats
The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off of a sequence of two strong games, where the Bolts outscored their opponents 14-3. With just four games left before the start of playoffs, the Lightning seem like they’re heading into the postseason in good shape and have finally solved their issues. Tonight’s game will be another challenge for the Lightning’s playoff form as they’re facing the Florida Panthers — a team currently running with a 13-game winning streak.
Brayden Point, who unexpectedly missed the game against the Leafs, returned to the lineup yesterday, but the Lightning lost Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Reportedly, he’s out with lower body injury after receiving a shot to his knee on Thursday. No information if he will be available tonight, but most likely the Lightning will be forced to play their third game in a row with eleven forwards and seven defensemen. Andrei Vasilevskiy will return to the net after Brian Elliott played yesterday against the Preds.
Jon Cooper didn’t break up the top line of Palat-Stamkos-Kucherov after Point’s return and they played another dominant game against Nashville. All three players are on quite impressive point streaks: Palat have posted six points over his last four games, Kucherov has 11 points in his five latest games and scored a goal in each, Stamkos has 13 points in those five games, matching his career-high for most points over a five-game span.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are continuing their record-breaking season. They have already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference and currently have 120 points in 78 games, which is 17 points more than their previous best record in a regular season. As it was already mentioned, the Panthers are on the 13-game winning streak — the longest in their history. They’re also just the 10th team in the NHL history with a 13-game winning streak. The Panthers are also undoubtedly the most dangerous offensive team of the season: they scored five goals (including two games with nine goals and one of them against the Bolts) or more in 32 games — more than a third of their games of this season. Jonathan Huberdeau is leading the team with 114 points in 78 games, trailing only Connor McDavid for the most points in the league.
The Panthers have beaten the Bolts in two out of three total games this season, including a very disheartening 9-3 victory in the previous match-up. The Lightning and the Panthers have developed a quite spicy rivalry over the years, especially over the previous season. They could face each other against in the postseason, as soon as in the second round.
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Brandon Hagel
Brayden Point - Nick Paul - Ross Colton -
Patrick Maroon - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Zach Bogosian
Florida Panthers Lines
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair
Mason Marchment - Sam Bennett - Claude Giroux
Maxim Mamin - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg - Eetu Luostarinen - Noel Acciari
Ben Chiarot - MacKenzie Weegar
Gustav Forsling - Brandon Montour
Lucas Carlsson - Radko Gudas