The Lightning (4-1-0; 8 pts) who are undefeated at home this season (3-0-0) enter the contest having won three straight since a loss to the New York Islanders during the opening week of the season and fresh off a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night.
After giving up a goal in the opening minute of the game to the Flyers, the Bolts responded with five unanswered goals, scored by five different players to get the win.
Martin St. Louis led the way with four assists on the night, Steven Stamkos contributed with a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to five games, Teddy Purcell added his first goal of the season plus a helper and Sami Salo chipped in with two more assists to extend his point streak to two games and increase his NHL leading plus/minus rating to a +9.
Vincent Lecavalier not only scored a goal, but was assessed a five minute major for dropping the gloves in his fight with Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn. In addition, Lecavalier had a game-high seven hits.
Defenseman Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman also tallied goals for the Bolts. For Brewer, the goal was his third of the season and came on just his fourth shot-on-goal this year. Last season, he netted only one goal in 82 games played.
Anders Lindback (3-1, 3.00 GAA) earned his second straight win stopping 24 of 25 shots. The one blemish on the night for Lindback was a fluke goal when the puck found its way into the basket going between his skate and the post.
Through the Lightning’s first four games, their play in the second period had been dreadful as they were outscored 10-3. However, they held the Flyers in check despite being outshot 11-5.
In addition, there were numerous keys to the game for the Lightning but the key stat had to be their shot blocking, followed by their penalty-kill and power-play.
The Lightning had a season-high 26 blocked shots, they held the Flyers scoreless on the power-play (0-for-6) and were scored twice when on the man advantage. For the first time this season, the Bolts did not allow a power-play goal.
The Bolts also come into the game with the NHL's highest scoring offense (4.80 GPG), while the Panthers (1-4-0; 2 pts) are struggling to find the success from last season when they won the Southeast Division.
Florida comes into Tampa on a four-game losing streak, having scored a grand total of three goals and no more than one in all of those contests. The Panthers haven't scored more than one goal since their 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on opening night.
Florida last played on Saturday night when they hosted the Flyers and were shelled 7-1. The Flyers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back. The lone goal scorer for Florida was Peter Mueller with both goalies Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen playing in the loss.
Florida's offense has been missing in action since their first game of the season. They have totaled just four goals since the then and have been outscored 18-3 during the four-game losing streak.
The team's leading point man is defenseman Brian Campbell with four points (2-2-4). All of his points have come on the power-play, including his two goals.
Kris Versteeg the Panthers third-leading scorer last season with 54 points is set to make his 2013 debut against the Bolts. Versteeg has been out with a groin injury. Versteeg's linemate Stephen Weiss is likely to miss his third straight game with a lower-body injury.
Goalie Jose Theodore (1-3-0; 3.02) has gone 5-0-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in his last five starts in Tampa and will make the start.
This is the first of five meetings on the season, with the Lightning winning the final four meetings last season to improve to 6-2-4 in their series since the 2010-2011 season. During this span, seven of the 12 games went into overtime.
The Lightning's big three guns in Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos feasted on the Panthers last season (last season the trio combined for 23 points in the season series) and look not only to continue their success against their in-state rival but also to their fast start this season.
St. Louis recorded a hat trick when the teams last met on Feb. 4, 2012 and as well netted four goals with four helpers in their six-game series.
In that same game, Lecavalier registered four points (all assists) for his 19th multi-point game of his career versus Florida – that is the most ever by a Panther opponent.
Stamkos, who would go on to win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer with 60, led all skaters with nine points (6 G, 3 A) and enters this game on a five-game goal streak against the Panthers.
Additionally, Stamkos enters this game on a five-game point streak (3-7-10), St. Louis enters with a two game point streak (0-6-6) and Lecavalier also enters with a two game point streak (1-3-4). St. Louis and Lecavalier have registered points in four of the five games played.
Anders Lindback (3-1-0; 3.00) gets the call in goal for the Bolts. This will be his second career start against the Panthers and first against them since Dec. 11, 2010 when he recorded his first career shutout in Nashville's 3-0 win.
Lightning's Morning Skate News
Defensemen Brendan Mikkelson and Marc-Andre Bergeron are healthy scratches for the game. Coach Guy Boucher said that goalie Mathieu Garon would start either against the Winnipeg Jets (Friday) or the New York Rangers (Saturday).
B.J. Crombeen missed Monday's practice with a bruised left foot serious enough to require a walking boot, is expected to play.
The Week Ahead
The Lightning continue with their season-high five-game home stand hosting the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, Feb. 1 and will conclude the home stand facing-off against the New York Rangers on Saturday, Feb. 2.
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