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Florida Panthers GameDay

Panthers, Lightning Renew Cross-State Rivalry for First Time in 2023-24



Florida panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point celebrates after scoring during overtime of a 3-2 win over the Panthers on Oct. 21, 2022, in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee )

TAMPA — The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning cross paths for the first time in the 2023-24 season fresh off the NHL’s three-day holiday break.

It will be their first non-preseason matchup since Feb. 28, to be exact.

A lot has changed since the last time these two teams met.

While the Lightning found themselves packing up their locker room in April for the first time since 2019, the Panthers made their run to the Stanley Cup Final last year.

For those counting at home, that means the past four Eastern Conference titles reside in the Sunshine State.

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“The fact that we’ve played each other in the playoffs adds to it a bit more and the geographics are a big part of why we have this rivalry, it the bottom line is that we’re both two good teams,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

“I think when the cream rises to the top, what we have done here in the last three years, both of our teams, I think that adds to it. We haven’t played these guys in quite some time, minus the preseason, but they are always fun games and I think a big part of it is because both teams have had success over the last few years.”

Still, the Panthers have yet to get their redemption from losing to Tampa in the playoffs in 2022.

“Over the last couple of years, we know how good of a team they are and I think any time you play a team that has won in recent years, and as many times as they’ve won, it amps it up a little bit more,” Brandon Montour said.

“You want to play the best and beat the best, and obviously this year, we haven’t played them yet, so we should be ready to go.”

The Panthers have a few challenges going against them tonight.

Coming off the holiday break, they were forced to fly in this morning, as per league rules.

Their early-morning flight did not leave much time to get some rest, which could lead to some fatigue.

“The first game after Christmas might be the one game where you are not sure what you’re going to get because it’s just so out of routine,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

“You get three days off, that never happens, then you travel on the day of the game, but I do think this game gets to what it’s going to be five minutes in, and I think it’ll probably be heavy and it’ll be a pretty physical game.

“I guess there is as good of a chance as it’s real sharp and there’s everybody snapping it around as an ugly puck moving game. I would probably bet on the latter with the time off, but that isn’t necessarily the deciding factor always in wins and losses.

“You just have to be ready because they will.”


The Florida Panthers will not make any lineup changes from their Dec. 23 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Sergei Bobrovsky will start in net for Florida while Andrei Vasilevskiy goes for Tampa Bay.

— Maurice will coach in his 1,800th NHL regular-season game tonight, one of three to ever do it; Scotty Bowman (2,141) and Barry Trotz (1,812) are the others.



  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Local Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-120); Puck line (-1.5, +185); Over/Under 6.5 (-125/+105)
  • Season Series — At Tampa Bay: Wednesday, Feb. 17. At Florida: March 16.
  • Last season: Even 2-2
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 75-50-19, 10 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.


17 Evan Rodrigues // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell  // 21 Nick Cousins

94 Ryan Lomberg //82 Kevin Stenlund // 67 Will Lockwood

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Josh Mahura, Steven Lorentz, Jonah Gadjovich


20 Nick Paul //21 Brayden Point // 86 Nikita Kucherov

38 Brandon Hagel // 71 Anthony Cirelli // 91 Steven Stamkos

84 Tanner Jeannot // 11 Luke Glendening // 23 Mikey Eyssimont

51 Austin Watson // 64 Tyler Motte // 73 Conor Sheary

77 Victor Hedman // 48 Nick Perbix

7 Haydn Fluery // 81 Erik Cernak

44 Calvin deHaan // 43 Darren Raddysh

88 Andrei Vasilevskiy

31 Jonas Johansson

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