TAMPA (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Florida Panthers look to build on a huge road victory when they take on the injury-plagued Lightning in Tampa Bay on Saturday in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division.READ MORE: Free Rapid At-Home COVID-19 Tests Can Be Ordered Online Starting Wednesday
The Panthers knocked off Boston 4-1 on Thursday to reach 90 points (91) for the fifth time in franchise history after dropping two in a row and are heading toward their first playoff berth in four seasons.
“We’re going to be in a lot of pressure situations down the stretch and hopefully in the playoffs,” Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo told reporters Thursday. “We have to be able to handle the pressure.”
The Lightning won their third straight contest with a 7-4 triumph over the New York Islanders on Friday but lost defenseman Anton Stralman indefinitely with a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula.
“Obviously, he plays a lot of minutes,” Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison told reporters of Stralman. “Power play, penalty kill, moves the puck well and he is super consistent. Guys need to step up and fill his void.”
The Lightning, who hold first place by a tiebreaker, also will likely be without forwards Ryan Callahan (lower body) and Valtteri Filppula (upper body) on Saturday.
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ABOUT THE PANTHERS (41-24-9): Center Vincent Trocheck scored for the third straight contest Thursday and shares the team lead with Jaromir Jagr and Reilly Smith at 24 goals apiece. The 44-year-old Jagr has registered 56 points and is tied for the top spot on the club with 32-year-old Jussi Jokinen, who has posted three goals and three assists over his last four games. Defensemen Willie Mitchell (upper body), Erik Gudbranson (foot) and center Derek MacKenzie (foot) have been skating and could return soon.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (43-26-5): Garrison, who notched three points Friday – including the 100th assist of his career, will be asked to log even more minutes along with remaining top-four blue-liners Victor Hedman (team-high plus-23) and Braydon Coburn. Captain Steven Stamkos has scored six goals in six games and Nikita Kucherov has tallied in four straight contests. Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to get the start in net Saturday after Ben Bishop pushed his victory total to 32 by winning his last three.
1. Luongo has posted 31 wins – his most since 2011-12 with Vancouver – and is 16-15-1 in 35 games against the Lightning with a .921 save percentage.
2. The Lightning have scored 13 times in their last two games, a season high for goals in back-to-back contests.
3. Florida RW Teddy Purcell, who played 310 games with the Lightning, has notched five points in seven games since being acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline.MORE NEWS: Kendis Gibson Joins CBSMiami As Morning Co-Anchor
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