The Florida Panthers will face their in-state rivals from the north tonight at the Bank Atlantic Center and try to disrupt the surging Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Panthers are coming off a start of the season three game road trip that started out west, having to face Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary. Though, one they cannot be satisfied with they can take a lot of positives from it starting with their exceptional goaltending by Tomas Vokoun.
Vokoun was 1-2 on the trip with a 1.69GAA and a .933Sv% stopping 70 of 75 shots faced. This effort is something we all expect out of Vokoun each year and has not disappointed yet. The two losses the Panthers have were by one goal and against Edmonton and Vancouver, which is pretty exceptional in net as well, holding the Panthers offense to just two goals combined. This would not be the case when they traveled to Calgary as they posted a 3-0 victory and the first shutout of the season for Vokoun.
As for the Lightning, they are coming off two games on the road as well after a home opener against Atlanta which they won back on Oct. ninth. Their road trip started at the Bell Centre in Montreal for the Canadiens home opener. The Lightning fired 48 shots on Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. While Price tried to steal the show, the Lightning offense made sure they did not let that happen as Ryan Malone tallied the game-winner in overtime.
The Bolts traveled to Philadelphia the next night where Simon Gagne returned to the Wells Fargo Center ice for the first time since being traded to Tampa. Though Gagne didn’t record a point in his return they would have enough offense from Steven Stamkos, Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina as they went on to beat the Flyers, 3-2.
Unfortunately for Panthers fans, this is only the beginning as Stamkos has recorded four goals, two assists and a +3 rating in the first three games of this young season. They are getting scoring from all over the ice whether it’s from their forwards or from the blue line, they are getting it done.
The Lightning have had their two goalies, Dan Ellis and Mike Smith stand tall as well in these games. Combined they are 3-0 with a 2.45GAA and .909Sv%.
The puck drop in the first meeting between in-state rivals is scheduled for 7 p.m.