Florida at Tampa Bay
When: 7:00 PM
ET, Saturday, April 27, 2013
Where: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
Both teams look to end a disappointing season on a positive note when the Florida Panthers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. The Panthers, who won the Southeast Division title in 2011-12, started slow and never could get traction, with several key players out injured most of the season. The Lightning struggled defensively and in one-goal games after a dazzling 6-1-0 start, despite having two of the league’s top three scorers in Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos.
Florida has lost seven of its last eight, while Tampa Bay stumbled home 1-5-2. The Southeast Division rivals have played many dramatic contests of late, with nine of the last 15 ending in either overtime or a shootout. The Lightning had won seven straight in the series -- three after regulation – before the Panthers triumphed 3-2 in a shootout on April 2 at Tampa Bay.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN (Florida), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (14-27-6): The numbers don’t lie for Florida. The Panthers rank last in the league in goals, goals against and penalty killing. Jacob Markstrom has appeared to tire a bit in April, but the 23-year-old did make 36 saves in beating the New York Rangers 3-2 on Tuesday. Center Jonathan Huberdeau, 19, has recorded only one point in his last eight games but still has a chance to be the league’s rookie scoring leader. The 19-year-old has registered 14 goals and 14 assists while playing all 47 contests.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (18-25-4): General manager Steve Yzerman will have some decisions to make on how to construct his defense for next season. On the positive side, there is no doubt he has some solid young players who look to be ready to take on full-time roles going forward, including Alex Killorn, Richard Panik, Radko Gudas and American Hockey League MVP Tyler Johnson. Panik and Gudas were sent back to Syracuse on Friday to join Johnson for the AHL playoffs. St. Louis, at the age of 37, leads the league in scoring with 58 points. Stamkos (56) looks to be the only player who can catch his teammate for the title.
1. St. Louis and Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz are the only players in the league to not go without a point in back-to-back games.
2. Florida RW Tomas Kopecky has not scored a goal in the last eight games but leads the team with 15.
3. Tampa Bay D Mathieu Roy, who has not played an NHL game since November 2010, is expected to be in the lineup Saturday.
PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Panthers 1
Stats and Records