TAMPA — A week ago, few would take the odds that the Florida Panthers would be riding a three-game losing streak going into their game against the host Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Panthers, after all, handed Carolina its first loss of the season last Saturday in Sunrise.
They have not won since.
The Panthers will be trying to salvage the finale of this four-game road trip Saturday night when they visit Amalie Arena for the second time this season.
Florida is 0-2-1 so far, taking regulation losses in New York and New Jersey before losing in a shootout to the Penguins on Thursday.
”It was definitely nice to be back and compete with the guys,” said Sergei Bobrovsky, who returned to the Florida net on Thursday after missing the past three-plus games.
”It was a good game, it was a fun game and I thought it was a big point for us. It could have been two points, but it’s one and we move on.”
Florida comes into Tampa riding a three-game regular season winning streak against the Lightning.
Although Tampa Bay won the best-of-7 first-round playoff series in six games, Florida did win five of eight against the Lightning during the regular season.
This year, the Panthers went into Tampa and pulled out a 4-1 win on Oct. 19.
Spencer Knight got the start that night and made 30 saves.
Brandon Montour, Sasha Barkov, Anton Lundell and Anthony Duclair all scored for Florida in that win.
Can the Panthers do it again?
They should would love to come home — the Panthers kick off a four-game homestand Tuesday against the Islanders — feeling a little better about themselves.
A win over the Lightning would certainly go a long way in settling things down.
The Panthers, one should note, still have the most points of any team in the entire league.
The sky is not falling although there is room for improvement
They know this.
“Similar story over the past three games,” coach Andrew Brunette said. “There are stretches where we’re doing the right things, like the first 10 minutes of the game where we’re buzzing and then we get sloppy.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
- WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WKIS 99.9-2 FM
- NHL STANDINGS: Florida 10-2-2, 22 points (first Atlantic); Tampa Bay 6-3-3, 15 points (fourth Atlantic).
- CURRENT STREAKS: Florida L3; Tampa Bay L1
- Last season: Florida won 5-3-0
- This season: Florida 4, @Lightning 1; Oct. 19
- All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 72-48-17, 10 ties
- Odds via BetMGM: Tampa Bay (PL -1.5 +200) — (ML -120) — U/O 5.5
- Up next: Islanders at Florida, Tuesday, 7; Islanders at Tampa Bay, Monday, 7
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 74 Owen Tippett
77 Frank Vatrano // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
62 Brandon Montour // 32 Lucas Carlsson
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Maxim Mamin, Kevin Connauton
Injured: Noel Acciari (IR), Olli Juolevi (IR), Joe Thornton (IR), Markus Nutivaara (IR), Mason Marchment (IR)
PROJECTED TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINEUP
18 Ondrej Palat // 21 Brayden Point // 71 Anthony Cirelli
17 Alex Killorn // 91 Steven Stamkos // 7 Mathieu Joseph
14 Pat Maroon // 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare // 10 Corey Perry
16 Taylor Raddysh // 79 Ross Colton // 60 Alex Barre-Boulet
77 Victor Hedman // 44 Jan Rutta
27 Ryan McDonagh // 81 Erik Cernak
3 Fredrik Claesson // 52 Cal Foote
88 Andrei Vasilevskiy
1 Brian Elliott