TAMPA — The Florida Panthers will make some lineup changes going into Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday afternoon.
After playing rookie Anton Lundell for just over four minutes on Thursday night, he will be out with Eetu Luostarinen moving up to center Maxim Mamin and Sam Reinhart on the third line.
Noel Acciari centers the fourth line with Ryan Lomberg and Patric Hornqvist.
Florida is also making a change to the top power play, with Hornqvist going up front.
Lundell has seen his time drop the past few games, going from 13-14 minutes early in the Washington series to 7:31 in Game 6. In the opener against Tampa Bay, he played over 14 minutes — with almost five of that killing penalties.
The 12th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Lundell had an excellent rookie season but Andrew Brunette said if Lundell was going to be scratched, it is only for his benefit.
Sunday morning, he confirmed Lundell would be out.
”It’s hard because he has been such an important player for us this year,” Brunette said on Saturday, adding he either would or already had spoken to Lundell about his declining minutes in the postseason.
“He has been running that third line and doing all those things. He kind of had his injury and hasn’t gotten up to the speed he had played at. This is hard hockey. I have lost him in a few games and that’s partially my fault. I think he probably lost a little confidence in between.
“If he comes out (Sunday), it’s good for a young kid to come out, take a look at it. He needs to be a little harder, a little better in certain areas. He needs to really dig in. This is hard hockey and he needs to find that. Again, he is a really young player and I don’t put too much stock in it. He is a really intelligent player who knows how to play. Sometimes it is healthy to come out and look at it from the outside.”
Florida also is making some changes to its much-maligned power play.
Claude Giroux was replaced on the top unit by Hornqvist, a player who is not afraid to get in front of the net and, as Brunette said, “creates some chaos, he’s a chaotic guy and sometimes you need that.’’
”We’re obviously going to be trying a whole bunch of different things,” Aaron Ekblad said, “trying to catch lightning in a bottle. It’s obviously been tough for us and that’s part of the reason we are in this. At the end of the day, it’s simple: Get pucks to the net, throw a number at the net. That’s something we’re going to try and do.”
The Panthers have gone scoreless in 25 power play chances this postseason and is 0-7 against the Lightning.
”We’re moving some different things, I don’t know exactly,” Brunette said. “Obviously we’re in a funk and have to try something different here. We had a couple different combinations going, we’ll see tomorrow. It could all be different ones, who knows? We have a lot of good players here. We just need to find something that clicks.”
Brunette said every player will get the “opportunity the longer we play” when asked about veteran forward Joe Thornton not being in the lineup yet this postseason.
“He’s been a great soldier and has been really good for our group,” Brunette said. “He brings such enthusiasm and you talk about a guy who has seen everything, he has been through everything. He is a really good asset for us to lean on.”
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING (TB leads 2-0)
- Game 3: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
- Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- TV/Streaming: TNT
- Postgame: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Odds — Tampa Favored: Money Line (-110/-110); Puck line (-1.5, +200); Over/Under 6.5 (+100/120); Series (-360)
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING
- Regular season series — Tied 2-2: Florida 4, @Lightning 1 (Oct. 19); @Lightning 3, Florida 2 OT (Nov. 13); @Florida 9, Lightning 3 (Dec 30); Tampa Bay 8, @Florida 4 (April 24).
- All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 73-49-18, 10 ties
- Playoff history: Second meeting; Tampa Bay d. Florida 4-2 in R1, 2021
- Round 1: Florida d. Washington 4-2; Tampa Bay d. Toronto 4-3
- Full schedule — Game 1: Tampa Bay 4, @Florida 1; Game 2: Tampa Bay 2, @Florida 1; Game 3: Florida at Tampa Bay, Sunday, 1:30 (TNT); Game 4: Florida at Tampa Bay, Monday, 7 (TNT); Game 5*: Tampa Bay at Florida, Wednesday, May 25 (Time, TV TBA); Game 6*: Florida at Tampa Bay Lightning, Friday, May 27 (Time, TV TBA); Game 7*: Tampa Bay at Florida, Sunday, May 29 (Time, TV TBA). (*) — If necessary.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
Coach: Andrew Brunette
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 28 Claude Giroux
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
98 Maxim Mamin // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 55 Noel Acciari // 70 Patric Hornqvist
8 Ben Chiarot // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 52 MacKenzie Weegar
7 Radko Gudas // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
PP1: Reinhart – Barkov – Hornqvist – Huberdeau – Ekblad
PP2: Giroux – Bennett – Duclair – Verhaeghe – Montour
Scratched: Lucas Carlsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Joe Thornton, Robert Hagg, Jonas Johansson, Anton Lundell
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Mason Marchment (LBI, d2d)
PROJECTED TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINEUP
Coach: Jon Cooper
91 Steven Stamkos // 71 Anthony Cirelli // 86 Nikita Kucherov
18 Ondrej Palat // 20 Nick Paul // 17 Alex Killorn
45 Cole Koepke // 79 Ross Colton // 10 Corey Perry
14 Pat Maroon // 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare // 16 Riley Nash
7 Victor Hedman // 81 Erik Cernak
27 Ryan McDonagh // 24 Zach Bogosian
98 Mikhail Sergachev // 52 Cal Foote
88 Andrei Vasilevskiy
1 Brian Elliott
PP1: Killorn – Stamkos – Perry – Hedman – Kucherov
PP2: Paul – Colton – Cirelli – Palat – Sergachev
Injured: Brayden Point (LBI, d2d)