TAMPA — Two old friends will reunite on the Amalie Arena ice on Tuesday night when the Florida Panthers visit their old pals the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Certainly one can imagine the two teams tossing a few back, reminiscing about the good old days, telling a few lies and the like.
If Tuesday’s meeting is anything like the past couple, fists will be flying as the two division and cross-state rivals get going again.
It’s not like they have missed one other. Earlier this month, the two played three preseason games with a number of scraps breaking out in all of them.
“You know they’re a tough team and I think this year, we’ll see them a lot after seeing them a ton last year,” Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t think they have changed a lot. We know they have some dangerous lines but their power play is the most dangerous thing against us. We have to be disciplined.”
Florida let the Tampa Bay power play take advantage of man-advantage situations last year in the playoffs and again in the preseason.
The Lightning will, however, be without star forward Nikita Kucherov who got hurt Saturday night in Washington and is apparently out for the long term.
Kucherov missed all of last season with an injury but returned in the playoffs — just in time to beat up on the Panthers.
The Lightning knocked the Panthers out of the first round in six games in what was the first postseason matchup between the two teams. Tampa Bay went on to win its second consecutive Stanley Cup championship, raising its third banner just one week ago.
“We know it’s going to be a tough one,’’ Antony Duclair said. “We know the rivalry with them. We saw it in the preseason. Now it’s the real deal. We play four times against them this season and it’s going to be a battle each game. It’s going to be a good test for us. We’re ready to go.’’
Duclair was part of Monday’s storyline as he remained on the top line with Sasha Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe following being moved up during Saturday’s win over the Islanders.
Sam Reinhart, now playing on the third line with Anton Lundell and Frank Vatrano, remains on the top power play unit.
PANTHERS/LIGHTNING NEWS & NOTES
Even though the Panthers won five of eight against the Lightning in the regular season, Tampa Bay is 10-2 at home against Florida since the start of the 2016-17 season — and 15-3-1 since 2013-14.
Steven Stamkos is the Lightning’s franchise goal leader against Florida with 34 goals in 56 regular season meetings. Stamkos is averaging 1.21 points per game against the Panthers with 68 points in 56 games.
— The Lightning have surrendered the first goal in all three games so far and has yet to hold a lead in regulation this season. Tampa Bay won its past two games in overtime after losing its home opener to the Penguins.
— Spencer Knight gets the start for Florida after Sergei Bobrovsky picked up the win in Florida’s first two games.
Knight, whose last game of the 2021 season came in Game 6 at Amalie, recorded wins in all four of his regular season appearances last year with a .919/2.32.
Knight was the youngest goalie in NHL history to begin his career with a 4-0 record (20 years, 14 days).
In two playoff games against the Lightning, Knight went 1-1, stopping 56 of 60 shots as he became the youngest Panthers goalie to make his playoff debut and youngest goalie in NHL history to win a playoff game when facing elimination.
— The Panthers activated Kevin Connauton on Monday and sent Matt Kiersted, who played in the first two games of the season, to AHL Charlotte.
Connauton will play Tuesday.
Mason Marchment also returns and he will replace Ryan Lomberg on the fourth line.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS (2-0) AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2-1)
- WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: 560-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 5-3
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 71-48-17, 10 ties
- Odds via Bovada.lv: Tampa Bay (PL -1.5 +175) — (ML -125) — U/O 6.5
- Up next: Colorado Avalanche at Florida, Thursday, 7; Colorado at Tampa Bay, Saturday, 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
17 Mason Marchment // 19 Joe Thornton // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
44 Kevin Connauton // 62 Brandon Montour
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratched: Eetu Luostarinen, Ryan Lomberg, Olli Juolevi
Injured: Noel Acciari, Markus Nutivaara
PROJECTED TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINEUP
18 Ondrej Palat // 21 Brayden Point // 10 Corey Perry
17 Alex Killorn // 71 Anthony Cirelli // 91 Steven Stamkos
14 Pat Maroon // 79 Ross Colton // 7 Mathieu Joseph
13 Boris Katchouk // 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare // 16 Taylor Raddysh
77 Victor Hedman // 44 Jan Rutta
27 Ryan McDonagh // 81 Erik Cernak
98 Mikhail Sergachev // 29 Andrej Sustr
88 Andrei Vasilevskiy
1 Brian Elliott
Injured: Nikita Kucherov, Zach Bogosian