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Florida Panthers GameDay

Panthers, Lightning Renew Battle of Florida on Hot Streaks



Florida Panthers Tampa Bay Lightinng
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) makes a blocker save as center Evan Rodrigues (17) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) look on during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Since Jan. 1, both the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning have been at the height of their powers.

The Panthers (13-3-2) and Lightning (12-5-0) have the first and third-best record in the Eastern Conference since the calendar flipped to 2024.

Florida also happens to be riding a 10-game road winning streak which started in Tampa on Dec. 27.

“I think we don’t care if we play a 0-0 game throughout a full 60 minutes,” Evan Rodrigues said. “If we have to take one to overtime, we’re willing to do that.

“Sometimes, when you are at home, it gets a little frustrating when you are not scoring and you want to get the crowd into it a little bit, and that’s where you start to make mistakes and that’s when we capitalize. I think that’s why you hear that we travel well.”

The Lightning, meanwhile, are riding an eight-game home winning streak which started a few days after their last meeting with the Panthers.

They have also scored the sixth-most goals and have the second-best power play in the league since Jan. 1.

Tonight’s matchup also features the players with the first and second-most points in the league since the start of 2024.

Matthew Tkachuk leads the way with 33 points (18-13) in 18 games while Nikita Kucherov is tied with Connor McDavid for second place with 32 points (10-22) in 17 games.

Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy have also been two of the NHL’s best goaltenders in that same span.

Bobrovsky is 9-1-1 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average in his past 12 starts.

Vasilevskiy is 11-4-0 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.60 goals against average in his last 15 starts.

Both netminders will get the start for their respective teams this afternoon.

“They play with an awful lot of speed through the middle of the ice and their goaltender is clearly capable of winning a hockey game for them,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“I think what makes them as big of a challenge as they are is that they have won Stanley Cups and they know how to play hard, they know how important every shift is. Every battle on every puck. Where we’ve made probably our biggest improvement in our game is our compete on a minute-to-minute basis.

“Right now, both teams are happy with the way they’re playing, so it’s on.”


Aaron Ekblad is out for tonight’s game and is listed as day-to-day, per team reporter Jameson Olive.

Josh Mahura will slot in for him.



  • When: Saturday, 5 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 (-155); Puck line (-1.5, +155); Over/Under 6.5 (+105/-130)
  • Season Series — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Saturday. At Florida: March 16.
  • Last season: Even 2-2
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 76-50-19, 10 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday vs. Ottawa, 7 p.m.


23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov// 13 Sam Reinhart

21 Nick Cousins // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 17 Evan Rodrigues

12 Jonah Gadjovich // 82 Kevin Stenlund //94 Ryan Lomberg

42 Gus Forsling // 91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson

77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour

28 Josh Mahura // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Josh Mahura, Steven Lorentz, Will Lockwood

Injured: Aaron Ekblad (lower body; day-to-day)


91 Steven Stamkos // 21 Brayden Point // 86 Nikita Kucherov

38 Brandon Hagel // 71 Anthony Cirelli // 23 Michael Eyssimont

12 Alex Barre-Boulet // 64 Tyler Motte // 73 Conor Sheary

51 Austin Watson // 11 Luke Glendening // 41 Mitchell Chaffee

77 Victor Hedman // 43 Darren Raddysh

7 Haydn Fleury // 81 Erik Cernak

78 Emil Martinsen Lilleberg // 48 Nick Perbix

88 Andrei Vasilevskiy

31 Jonas Johansson

Scratched: Austin Watson, Calvin de Haan

Injured: Mikhail Sergachev (leg), Tanner Jeannot (undisclosed), Nicholas Paul (undisclosed)

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