NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, October 15th
(All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (1-2-1) at Florida Panthers (1-1-0), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The state of Florida hasn't seen much hockey yet this
season, but that will change over the next few days. The Panthers get things
rolling tonight with their home opener at BankAtlantic Center against the
well-traveled Tampa Bay Lightning.
Hoping to end an NHL-record 10-season playoff drought, the Panthers got their
campaign off to a solid start with a 2-0 victory over the Islanders last
Saturday, but dropped a 4-2 decision to the Penguins three days later at
Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann had the goals and Jose Theodore made 25 saves
for the Panthers, who went 0-for-5 on the power play and yielded a short-
handed goal as well.
"They kept it simple. They really threw everything at the net and they were
there in front of the net taking rebounds," Theodore said about Pittsburgh.
The Panthers were hoping to win their first two games to start a season for
the first time since 2005, but will instead have to settle for their first
home victory of 2011-12. Florida is 8-5-2 with a pair of ties all-time in its
first home game of the season, including a 6-0 win over the Bolts last year.
David Booth had a pair of goals and an assist in the rout.
Tonight will also mark the home debut of several new Florida skaters as well
as first-year head coach Kevin Dineen. New faces for the Panthers include
Fleischmann, Theodore, Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell.
"I know our players, we talked about it the other day, I think their very
enthusiastic and I'd be lying to say if I wasn't as well," Dineen said of the
home opener. "Kind of get out there in front of our home fans, enough of the
talk, show them what we have on the ice."
Florida will get right back to road play on Monday when it visits the
Lightning for their home opener. Tampa Bay will first wrap a five-game road
trip to begin the season tonight and has lost the last three games of the
swing since a season-opening win at Carolina.
The Lightning have been outscored 15-7 over their winless drought (0-2-1) and
were routed by the Islanders 5-1 on Thursday. Steven Stamkos netted the only
goal for Tampa Bay with a deflection in front off a point shot from Marc-Andre
Bergeron for his first tally of the season.
Former Islander Dwayne Roloson struggled in net for Tampa Bay and yielded five
goals -- including one just 36 seconds in -- on 18 shots before being relieved
by Mathieu Garon, who stopped all 16 shots he faced.
"We turned the puck over and we weren't making plays and it cost us," Stamkos
said. "When you give up four goals in the first period it's tough to win in
Florida won four of six over fellow Southeast Division resident Tampa Bay a
season ago, with three of those victories coming past regulation.
10/15 10:33:54 ET