Preview: Lightning, Panthers meet up for 1st time since season opener
TV: FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Sun and 7:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida
But the Panthers will have to move forward without All-Star center Vincent Trocheck, potentially for the rest of the season.
Trocheck, who has three goals and 14 points in 18 games, suffered a gruesome leg injury on Monday in Ottawa when he hit the end boards upright but had his leg bend sideways under his weight as fell to the ice. Trocheck needed to be taken off the ice via a stretcher and on Tuesday reportedly underwent surgery to repair “significant” damage to his right leg, according to TSN’s Daren Dreger.
The loss will be a difficult void to fill for the Panthers, who have won six of the past eight games.
“He plays in every situation for us, so that’s a big loss,” Boughner told NHL.com regarding Trocheck. “We’re going to have to come together as a team and figure it out until he comes back.”
Rookie forward Juho Lammikko expects to see some additional playing time in Trocheck’s absence and the former third-round pick is coming off a four-assist game against Ottawa, setting a franchise rookie record for assists in a game. Lammikko is also just the sixth rookie in the past 10 seasons to record four or more assists in a game.
Lammikko logged a career-high 15:51 of ice time.
“When we lost Troch, Lammer had to play on a bunch of different lines,” Boughner told floridapanthers.com. “It was a great night for him. I’m happy for him. He works hard. He plays the right way. He’s a detailed kid and he spent his time down in Springfield. He’s punched the clock and earned everything he’s getting right now.”
Tampa Bay returns home from a four-game trip after dropping the finale at Nashville on Monday to fall into second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Lightning are dealing with injuries of their own. Already without All-Star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay saw fourth-line center Cedric Paquette miss the last game with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Defenseman Anton Stralman has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, but resumed skating with the team at the end of the road trip and is questionable to return against the Panthers.
Tampa Bay will have to continue to ride goaltender Louis Domingue, who is 2-1 since Vasilevskiy was injured marking the first time Domingue has made consecutive starts with the Lightning.
“It’s fun to be playing again and getting a couple of games in a row like that,” Domingue said after Monday’s game. “It’s a lot easier. It’s crazy how it makes a difference to be playing. You just get in the rhythm, you just don’t think. It was a lot of fun. I definitely feel sharper. It’s different. I just don’t think. I just execute my game plan that I applied in practice. I just continue building on my games. I feel really comfortable.”