Tampa Bay Lightning preseason schedule features five games in Florida

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced a seven game preseason schedule on Thursday that spreads the hockey love through Florida and the southeast. That's a departure of recent seasons where the Lightning traveled the country as a team-for-hire to promoters in venues from Seattle to Saskatchewan and places in between.

In fact, this time around, the Bolts only play two out-of-state games on their schedule - traveling to St. Louis to take on the Blues on September 28th and venturing east to PNC Arena (in Raleigh, formerly known as RBC Center) to take on the Hurricanes on September 30th. The remaining five games are split between Florida venues.

There are two home games at Times Palace scheduled - September 26th against the Blues and October 4th against Florida -- while the team also ventures to Sunrise to take on the Panthers at Bank Atlantic Center (October 6th).

Like last season, the Bolts will play an exhibition game in Orlando at Amway Center (again the Hurricanes on September 27th). But as an added exhibition bonus for those in South Florida, the Lightning will play against the Panthers in Estero's Germain Arena (home of the Florida Everblades) on October 2nd. It'll be the first of three consecutive games between the Bolts and the Cats (on top of the six games already slated in the NHL's 2012-13 schedule). For those who want a big rivalry between the two clubs, this will help fan those flames.

The full release from the club is below.


Tampa Bay Set To Play Games in Estero & Orlando Prior to Start of 2012-13 Regular Season

TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning will play a total of seven preseason games in 2012, the team announced today. They will kick off their preseason schedule on Wednesday, September 26 against the St. Louis Blues at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightning will also play three consecutive nights to open the exhibition schedule. A ticket on-sale will be announced at a later date.

The Lightning will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, September 27 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The game will mark the fifth time the Lightning have played an exhibition game in Orlando. The most recent time the Bolts played in Central Florida was last September, when they fell, 4-3, to the Blues at the Amway Center.

Following their game in Orlando, the Lightning will travel to St. Louis the next day to take on the Blues at the Scottrade Center. The club will then head to Carolina on Sunday, September 30 to play the Hurricanes at 2 p.m. at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Tampa Bay will begin a stretch of three consecutive games against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, October 2 when they host their division rivals in Estero, Florida at the Germain Arena. The game will mark the fifth time the Lightning have hosted a preseason game at the home arena of their ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades.

The Lightning will then host the Panthers on Thursday, October 4 at the Times Forum before travelling back down south to play them at the BankAtlantic Center two nights later to round out their preseason schedule.

The following is the schedule of games for the Lightning's 2012 preseason:

Date Time Venue Opponent

Wednesday, September 26 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum (Tampa, FL) St. Louis Blues

Thursday, September 27 7 p.m. Amway Center (Orlando, FL) Carolina Hurricanes

Friday, September 28 8 p.m. Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO) St. Louis Blues

Sunday, September 30 2 p.m. RBC Center (Raleigh, NC) Carolina Hurricanes

Tuesday, October 2 7 p.m. Germain Arena (Ft. Myers, FL) Florida Panthers

Thursday, October 4 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum (Tampa, FL) Florida Panthers

Saturday, October 6 7:30 p.m. BankAtlantic Center (Sunrise, FL) Florida Panthers