Panthers-Lightning Preview

Five of the last six meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning

and Florida Panthers have gone past regulation, and that’s been

mostly beneficial to Florida.

The Lightning play their home opener at the refurbished St. Pete

Times Forum on Monday night as they try to avenge a loss to the

Panthers two nights earlier.

Florida (2-1-0) welcomed Tampa Bay (1-2-2) for its home opener

Saturday and came away with a 3-2 shootout victory. The Panthers

have won four of the last five matchups that have gone past

regulation, including three of four shootouts.

“We’ll take that extra point and put it in the bank,” Panthers

defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “They’re huge right now, these


It was a frustrating loss for Tampa Bay, which missed all three

attempts in the shootout and is 0 for 5 on shootout attempts this

season. The Lightning have dropped six of their last seven


Marc-Andre Bergeron scored both goals Saturday for Tampa Bay,

which is eager to get home after losing its last four games.

“We’re a team that came back a lot last year and we never quit,”

Bergeron said. “We’re a hardworking team and right now I think

we’re a little off but it’s starting to come back and we’re seeing

it and we’re starting to understand a little more that it’s not

going to be easy.”

This rematch figures to be an intense affair after Florida’s

Erik Gudbranson got into his first NHL fight, tangling with Tampa

Bay’s Steve Downie in the second period. Gudbranson was assessed 19

minutes in penalties while Downie got 17.

“I think that was a real shot in the arm for the team,” Panthers

coach Kevin Dineen said.

The Panthers have been getting solid goaltending from newcomer

Jose Theodore, who made 28 saves Saturday to lower his

goals-against average to 1.97.

“Let’s not forget, Jose Theodore is a good player,” Dineen said.

“He’s proven that over the length of a career. We felt that he was

a No. 1 goalie, but for me he really had to earn it. He had a

pretty stinky training camp, but since then he’s been pretty


Tampa Bay has used both Dwayne Roloson and new acquisition

Mathieu Garon in goal. Garon has the lower GAA at 2.28 after his

36-save effort Saturday.

“I thought we played a solid game,” Garon said. “Guys were real

sharp and it was nice to see.”

Steven Stamkos, who was second in the NHL with 45 goals last

season, is off to a bit of a slow start. He has one goal through

five games after registering five at this point in 2010-11, and

he’s scored once in his last seven games against the Panthers.

Dineen credited a loud home crowd for the strong effort

Saturday. He’s wary of the response from the Lightning at the St.

Pete Times Forum, where a frenzied atmosphere is expected thanks to

the addition of 20-foot long ‘Tesla coils’ that will produce the

effects of a lightning bolt.

“You have a team that’s that talented, they’re certainly going

to try and take advantage of you,” Dineen said.