Oct 10, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) makes a save from Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis (26) during the second period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Tonight, our Tampa Bay Lightning embarks on a three game road trip. The first stop is the BB&T Center in Sunrise to go head-to-head with our in-state rival Florida Panthers. Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s matchup.

The Lightning is looking to extend their current win streak to three while on the other side of the ice, the Panthers will be looking to break their two-game losing streak with a win over Tampa Bay.

Both teams are hungry, each for their own reasons. Taking into consideration their well-defined rivalry, this is going to be a volatile game.

The last time that these two teams met, the Lightning absolutely routed the Panthers by a score of 7-2. This outing also saw a hat trick from center Steven Stamkos, his first since 2011.

Right now, Steven Stamkos leads the Bolts in all three main categories. He currently has 7 goals and 8 assists for a total of 15 points. On the other side of the ice, Florida center Brad Boyes leads the team with 4 goals; however, it is left wing Tomas Fleischmann who leads the Panthers in Assists and Points with 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points.

While the tale of the tape shows a slight advantage towards the Lightning, it is not exactly a runaway game.

Bolts Panthers
Goals Per Game 3.4 2
Goals Against Per Game 2.8 3.36
Shots on Goal Per Game 27.1 27.82
Penalty Minutes Per Game 15.2 14.82
Power Play Goals 10 4
Power Play Percentage 23.3% 10.8%
Penalty Kill Percentage 81% 79.4%

 

While Tampa Bay does have the advantage in Goals Per Game and Goals Against Per Game, they are fairly neck and neck in regards to Shots on Goal. The good news is that the Bolts have a slight advantage when it comes to capitalizing on their opportunities.

They average about the same in regards to Penalty Minutes Per Game; however, with the edge going to the Lightning on special teams, this could play out to the Bolts’ advantage.

Lately, the Lightning have been coming out strong in the first period, but for some unknown reason they start to let their guard down a little too much in the second, leading them to fall behind. The Lightning’s warrior captain Martin St. Louis said something that made perfect sense to those of us here in the Bolts Nation.

The good teams always find a way to win.” St. Louis said. “It’s not always going to be perfect. We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for results.”

Results, they have definitely found. The Lightning are 7-3-0 and currently sitting in 3 place in the Eastern Conference. Don’t worry, I am well aware that it is entirely too early to be getting all giddy about the NHL Standings; however, when you put into perspective that we are already in better shape than we were at this exact same time last season, you will see the same glimmer of hope that I do.

The keys to tonight’s game are:

  1. Keep the pressure on, and the puck in the offensive zone.
  2. Stay out of the penalty box.
  3. Capitalize on the Power Play.

 

With Panthers Goaltender still recovering from a leg injury, one could safely assume that the Bolts will be shooting against Panthers backup goalie Jacob Markstrom. Right now, Markstrom is 1-4-1 in  his 8 appearances so far this season with a GAA of 3.27 and a Save Percentage of .886.

With Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop playing in net against the Sabres on Saturday night, one could safely assume that the Panthers could be shooting against Bolts backup goaltender Anders Lindback. Lindback has yet to find a win so far this season in his 2 starts. He currently has a GAA of 3.80 and a Save Percentage of .839.

Will the Bolts be able to extend their win streak to 3? What will they need to do to ensure that they come out on top tonight against the rival Florida Panthers? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

 

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Tags: Florida PAnthers NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

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