Tampa Bay at Florida
When: 5:00 PM
ET, Sunday, March 1, 2015
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida
The Tampa Bay Lightning play 15 of their final 19 regular-season games against Atlantic Division rivals, starting Sunday with a trip south to take on the Florida Panthers. The Lightning survived a brutal February schedule against all Western Conference opponents, finishing with a 6-4-2 record after posting a 4-0 triumph over Chicago on Friday. The Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) with a 5-3 victory over Buffalo on Saturday as future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr made his debut with his eighth NHL team.
Jagr was acquired from New Jersey on Thursday and didn’t have a point against the Sabres, but Florida recorded more goals than it did in its previous four games combined. The Panthers are four points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and face Tampa Bay for the first time since a 3-2 overtime loss in their season opener. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos has scored six goals in his last seven games and has 22 in 32 career meetings with Florida.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (38-19-6): With a little more rest over the last two weeks, Ben Bishop has raised his game to a higher level, going 4-0-0 with a .955 save percentage in his last four outings. Tampa Bay, which still is without injured top-six defensemen Radko Gudas and Matt Carle, has allowed 28 shots or fewer in five straight games and is among the league’s best at 27.6 against per contest. Tyler Johnson has recorded 11 points in his last 11 games to reach 60 for the first time in his brief career.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (27-22-13): Jagr played on a line with 19-year-old Aleksander Barkov and 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau, registering three shots on goal in 17:09. “He was outstanding,” coach Gerard Gallant told reporters. “He makes your team a lot better, gives your team a lot of confidence.” Leading scorer Nick Bjugstad (22 goals, 15 assists) tallied to end a five-game point drought and Brandon Pirri returned from a nine-game absence due to an upper-body injury to score twice against Buffalo.
1. Tampa Bay RW Ryan Callahan is one tally shy of the fourth 20-goal season of his career and first since 2011-12.
2. Florida G Al Montoya is expected to be in net after No. 1 Roberto Luongo earned his 23rd victory Saturday.
3. Tampa Bay is 11-2-2 against Atlantic rivals while the Panthers are 10-3-4.
PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Panthers 3
Stats and Records