The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning had a little dance party on Saturday night with skirmishes breaking out all over the ice.
The two teams meet for the third time in five days on Monday night — the dance hall has changed to Amalie Arena in Tampa — so there’s a good chance the bad blood may carry over.
For the Panthers, who lost 6-1 Saturday, they need to come back with the kind of spirited effort they brought in Thursday’s rousing 5-2 victory.
Playing the same team for the third time in such a short period of time almost assuredly will ramp up the intensity.
On both sides.
“When you play a team two or three times in a row, things can get out of hand a little bit,” Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said Saturday.
”It’s good that we’re sticking up for our teammates, showing a lot of character out there. Sticking up for each other is great, you love to see it.
“I don’t know if it will carry over or not, we’ll see, but it’s a physical game and I hope we’re physical the next game because we have to try and take away their speed. Physicality is one way to do it.”
The Panthers took a bit of a hit to their collective psyche on Saturday night as the Lightning’s performance continued its standing as the class of this division — if not the NHL.
Tampa Bay is the defending Stanley Cup champion and, despite being without three of its top offensive stars, look like it when it wants to.
The Panthers showed something in Thursday’s win but the Lightning “returned the favor” as one player said on Saturday.
Florida needs to collect itself, come back Monday with the chip on its shoulder which fueled Thursday’s victory if they want the chance to pick up at least another point in the standings and keep pace in the Central.
”We have to be at our best to beat that team,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I give them credit but we approached the game the right way. We didn’t handle the adversity in the middle of it.”
Said Sasha Barkov: “It obviously didn’t go our way and Tampa is a really good team. But we have to play our own game in order to beat them and we didn’t do that today. … This game is over. We have to think about the next one.”
This will be the Panthers first visit to Tampa this season and they will have three more games at Amalie Arena before the season ends.
The Lightning, which has already hit the 10-win mark, is unbeaten at home this season and their six-game home winning streak is the longest current run in the league.
Tampa Bay would set a franchise record for home wins to start a season with a victory tonight.
The Lightning will be without Anthony Cirelli for a second consecutive game but the status of captain Steven Stamkos is not known.
He was on the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol list the past two days but came off Sunday — meaning, if otherwise healthy, he could play Monday.
Stamkos had been slowed by a lower body injury which forced him out of the third period of Tuesday’s win in Nashville so it is not known if he would have been able to play in the past two games anyway.
He was on the ice with the Lightning on Monday morning so it’s likely he plays.
The Lightning also appear to be making a change in net with Curtis McElhinney leaving the ice first.
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Florida will not come back with the same lineup as Quenneville said Noel Acciari is out with an upper body injury and not on this trip. Quenneville said he expects Acciari to miss a week to 10 days.
Juho Lammikko will return to center the fourth line.
Ryan Lomberg has been a physical presence on the fourth line the past two games which would lead one to believe he stays in for Game 3.
It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see defenseman Noah Juulsen make his way into the lineup.
As for the goalie, Chris Driedger starts after Sergei Bobrovsky started the first two games of the series.
Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- TV/Radio: FSF/560-AM
- Records: Tampa Bay 10-2-1 (1st in Central); Florida 8-2-2 (2nd)
- All-time series: Florida leads 67-47-16, 10 ties
- Season series: Tied 1-1
- Last season: Tampa Bay won three of four
- Up next: Florida at Carolina, Wednesday, 5; Tampa Bay at Dallas, Thursday, 8:30
- Panthers This Week: Monday at Tampa Bay, 7; Wednesday at Carolina, 5; Friday at Detroit, 7; Saturday at Detroit, 5
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINES
23 Carter Verhaeghe — 16 Sasha Barkov — 91 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist
77 Frank Vatrano —27 Eetu Luostarinen — 74 Owen Tippett
94 Ryan Lomberg — 83 Juho Lammikko — 10 Brett Connolly
52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad
65 Markus Nutivaara — 6 Anton Stralman
3 Keith Yandle — 7 Radko Gudas
60 Chris Driedger
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratches: D Noah Juulsen, F Vinnie Hinostroza
Taxi squad: D Kevin Connauton, F Scott Wilson, F Mason Marchment, G Philippe Desrosiers
Injured: D Gustav Forsling (upper body), F Noel Acciari (upper body)
Florida power play (11/34 28.3% — 7th in NHL)
Florida penalty kill (26/35 74.3% — 25th in NHL)
PP1: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle
PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Stralman
PROJECTED TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINES
TAMPA BAY FORWARDS
17 Alex Killorn — 21 Brayden Point — 91 Steven Stamkos
20 Blake Coleman — 37 Yanni Gourde — 18 Ondrej Palat
71 Mathieu Joseph — 9 Tyler Johnson — 19 Barclay Goodrow
14 Patrick Maroon — 46 Gemel Smith — 79 Alexander Volkov
TAMPA BAY DEFENSEMEN
77 Victor Hedman — 44 Jan Rutta
27 Ryan McDonagh — 81 Erik Cernak
98 Mikhail Sergachev — 52 Cal Foote
TAMPA BAY GOALIES
35 Curtis McElhinney
88 Andrei Vasilevskiy
Injury: Anthony Cirelli (shoulder)
Tampa Bay power play (13/46 28.3% — 7th in NHL)
Tampa Bay penalty kill (39/46 84.8% — 5th in NHL)
PP1: Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman
PP2: Patrick Maroon, Ondrej Palat, Alexander Volkov, Mikhail Sergachev, Yanni Gourde