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Game 22 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first game of a back-to-back home-and-home series.

The Florida Panthers are hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night for the fourth of six contests between the southern neighbors this season. Florida is 5-2-3 at home,  and the Bolts have a 3-6-2 record away from the St. Pete Times Forum.  This is the final game of a four game homestand for the Cats, who roll into Friday on their first three game winning streak in three seasons.  The contest is the the first game of a back-to-back round-robin series between the two clubs.  The Panthers go on to play the Hurricanes in Carolina on Tuesday evening, while the Lightning will visit the Minnesota Wild for a game on Monday. 

The teams last met in Sunrise on November 6.  The Panthers skated out to a three goal first period lead before letting Tampa Bay back into it, with two second period goals and a tying goal by Teddy Purcell eight minutes into the third period.  After a scoreless overtime, the Lightning needed four frames in the shootout to finish off the Cats, 4-3.

Lightning @ Panthers 11/06/11 (via NHLVideo)


On Wednesday, the Panthers collected their third consecutive win and stayed perfect on their homestand by beating the New York Rangers 2-1 in regulation.  Jason Garrison collected his eight goal and Kris Versteeg netted his 12th.  Jose Theodore stopped 19 of 20 shots and extended his record to 9-4-2.

 

Rangers @ Panthers 11/23/11 (via NHLVideo)

Tampa Bay come into Sunrise as losers in four of their last five games.  They last faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, allowing 13 different skaters onto the scoresheet as the Leafs annihilated the Bolts, 7-1.

Maple Leafs @ Lightning 11/22/11 (via NHLVideo)


Season Series: 2-0-1

All-Time Series: 55-28-18

Game Time: 7:30 EST

Standings

Florida Panthers: 12-6-3, 27 points, first SE Division, second Eastern Conference, fifth NHL, on pace for 105 points.

Tampa Bay Lightning: 9-9-2, 20 points, third SE Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 23rd NHL, on pace for 82 points.

Lineup

The Panthers have had injury issues to several forwards. Mikael Samuellson is currently on the injured reserve, having yet to skate with the Cats. Scottie Upshall and Matt Bradley are also still out of commission. Marcel Goc is skating with the team, but is stil listed as doubtful.  Goalie Scott Clemmensen, forward Tomas Fleischmann, and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov are all listed as questionable. 

Probable Starters

Goaltenders:

Jacob Markstrom (2-2-1) will reportedly be taking the ice for the Panthers in game one, with Jose Theodore (9-4-2) skating for the Cats in Tampa Bay for game two.  Mathieu Garon should get his turn in the crease for the Bolts on Friday.

Forwards:

 Florida:

1. Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg

2. Bergenheim - Kopecky - Goc

3. Santorelli - Sturm - Skille

4. Repik - Matthias - Dadonov

Tampa Bay:

 

1. Shannon - LeCavalier - St. Louis

2. Malone - Stamkos - Purcell

 

3. Connolly - Moore - Downie

4. Hall - Thompson - Pyatt

Defense:

Florida:

1. Campbell - Garrison

2. Jovanovski - Gudbranson/Ellerby

3. Kulikov - Weaver

Tampa Bay:

1. Gilroy - Brewer

2. Hedman - Clark

3. Kubina - Bergeron

Common Thread:

Lightning center Dominic Moore played 48 games for the Cats in 2009-10, scoring eight goals, nine assists, a minus-seven rating and 35 penalty minutes.

Panthers winger Sean Bergenheim played in 80 games for the Lightning last season, scoring 14 goals and 15 assists while spending 56 minutes in the penalty box and finishing the season up with an even plus/minus rating.

Team Milestones:

Panthers:

Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 32nd, which will move him into a tie for 32nd with Richard Zednik. His next assist will give him 58 with the Panthers, tying him with Paul Laus, in 30th.

Mike Santorelli's next goal will be number 24 as a Panther, moving him into a tie with Dave Gagner in 45th place all-time.

Dmitry Kulikov's next assist will give him 48 for his career, moving him into a tie for 39th with Keith Ballard.

With Stephen Weiss' next point, he will move past Scott Mellanby into second place, all-time with 355.

Lightning:

Martin St. Louis' next goal will be his 300th as a member of the Lightning.

Ryan Malone's next goal will give him 66, moving him into a tie for 14th all-time with Dan Boyle.  His next assist will tie him with Alex Selimanov in 14th with 77.

Teddy Purcell's next goal makes number 26, moving him into a tie with Jeff Halpern in 36th for Tampa Bay.  His next assist will give him 48, moving him past Filip Kuba into 28th all-time.

Victor Hedman's next assist will be his 40th with the Bolts, moving him into a tie with Mark Bureau in 35th.

Dominic Moore's next goal gives him 20 as a member of the Lightning, moving him into a tie for 47th with Mikael Renberg.

Steven Stamkos' next point will give him 253, moving him into a tie with Dan Boyle for eighth all-time.

Team Leaders:

Goals:

Panthers:

Kris Versteeg - 12

Tomas Fleischmann - 9

Stephen Weiss, Jason Garrison - 8

Lightning:

Steven Stamkos - 11

Vincent LeCavalier - 9

Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis - 5

Assists:

Panthers:

Brian Campbell - 17

Dmitry Kulikov, Kris Versteeg - 14

Lightning:

Marc-Andre Bergeron - 14

Martin St. Louis - 11

Steven Stamkos - 9

Points:

Panthers:

Kris Versteeg - 26

Tomas Fleischmann - 22

Stephen Weiss - 21

Lightning:

Steven Stamkos - 20

Marc-Andre Bergeron - 17

Vincent LeCavalier, Martin St. Louis - 16

Plus/Minus:

Panthers:

Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss - plus-15

Kris Versteeg - plus-13

Lightning:

Matt Gilroy, Martin St. Louis, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Steven Stamkos - plus-five

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.