SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers hope their Covid problems are behind them but it appears the Tampa Bay Lightning are right in the thick of it.
The Lightning, who visit Sunrise Thursday for the first time this season, had six players missing when it returned from the pause on Tuesday night including coach Jon Cooper.
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, Montreal was hit even harder.
The Canadiens were down nine players for that game yet fought gallantly as the Lightning came from behind to pull out a 5-4 win.
The Lightning will be without some of its best players for Thursday’s game including All-World goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and backup Brian Elliott.
Tampa Bay did get back Brayden Point after an extended stay on IR and he turned in a fantastic performance Tuesday with two goals and three points off six shots.
Maxime Lagace made 27 saves in the Lightning win and will start against the Panthers on Thursday.
Hugo Alnefelt, the 20-year-old prospect who has played for Syracuse and Orlando this season, is the backup.
As for the Panthers, well, they had their full complement of players — for the most part — for Wednesday night’s game against the visiting New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
Although the Panthers did not look fantastic, they looked good enough as they pulled out a 4-3 win against the Rangers.
Florida got goals from Anton Lundell, MacKenzie Weegar, Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair in the win.
“We have such a resilient group,’’ Weegar said after the Panthers rallied from a 2-1 deficit with three goals in the third.
“It is the belief. After the second period, heads are high, chins are up, we’re all positive in there. You guys know firsthand being around us how close we are, and we’ve got such a good family in there. We do love to battle for each other. We came out strong, it was a physical game, big hits all around on both sides, we stuck in there, we battled for each other and got a big win tonight.”
As for Thursday, we are not sure how the Panthers will line up although one can bet Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Lomberg will be in there.
Those two played their agitator role to the limit Wednesday night — and seemed to be having a blast doing it.
One can bet they will be doing their best to spice things up against the Lightning on Thursday.
As for a goalie, Spencer Knight gets in with Sergei Bobrovsky backing up.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560, SiriusXM
- NHL Betting Odds from FanDuel: Florida favored (PL -1.5 +164) — (ML -154) — U/O 6.5
- Last season: Florida won 5-3-0
- This season — Florida leads 1-0-1: Florida 4, @Lightning 1, Oct. 19; @Lightning 3, Florida 2 (OT), Nov. 13
- All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 72-48-18, 10 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 13 Sam Reinhart
98 Maxim Mamin // 15 Anton Lundell // 17 Mason Marchment
94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
32 Lucas Carlsson // 62 Brandon Montour
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratched: Jonas Johansson, Joe Thornton, Frank Vatrano
Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR)
Covid Protocol: Olli Juolevi, Owen Tippett
PROJECTED TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINEUP
18 Ondrej Palat // 91 Steven Stamkos // 16 Taylor Raddysh
17 Alex Killorn // 21 Brayden Point // 7 Matthieu Joseph
14 Pat Maroon // 79 Ross Colton // 10 Corey Perry
13 Boris Katchouk // 20 Riley Nash // 82 Gabriel Fortier
77 Victor Hedman // 44 Jan Rutta
27 Ryan McDonagh // 24 Zach Bogosian
52 Cal Foote // 74 Sean Day
33 Maxime Lagace
60 Hugo Alnefelt