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NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning Stun Florida Panthers 5-2 in Season Opener

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Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat scores a goal during the season opener against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena Thursday, October 3, 2019. Photo: Scott Audette/Getty Images.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – After a tough closeout to the 2018-2019 season, The Bolts bounced back with a 5-2 home opener victory versus in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. In Thursday night’s home opener, not only did we see many new Lightning faces, including Carter Verhaeghe, Pat Maroon, and Kevin Shattenkirk, but we saw a new defensive mentality on the ice.

Early in the first period the Bolts focused on playing defensively. Coach Jon Cooper mentioned in an earlier press conference that after last season, they were going to focus on defense. It helps that the Lightning have a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie in Vasilevskiy (Vasy), but they can’t overwork or rely on him–they must do better protecting him. Fortunately backup goalie McElhinney has shown his talent in the net as well during his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Palat came out very physical, removing guys from plays and helping the Bolts have extended offense time. As the Lightning relentlessly attacked the Panthers goal, eventually Sergachev positioned himself to get a pass off Kucherov for the first goal of the night.

In the 2nd period, Panthers’ Mike Hoffman tied the game, but that didn’t last long because Sergachev wasn’t done making his point to the Panthers. Halfway into the 2nd period, Sergachev set up newcomer Shattenkirk to land his first goal as a Bolt, putting the Lightning up 2-1. Florida kept at the Lightning net, but the defense was consistent in preventing any further goals that period.

Third period could have been anyone’s game as the Panthers’ Vincent Trocheck put a wrist shot on goal. Palat responded with a tip-in, then Hedman found Pat Maroon at the head of the crease to assist him in his NHL debut goal, putting the Bolts up 4-2. Then in the final face-off of the night, defensive player Erik Cernak shot off of a pass from Cirelli to score an empty netter, officially closing out the home opener, Lightning 5, Panthers 2.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat spoke with the media after the Bolts defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 at Amalie Arena Thursday, October 3, 2019. Photo: Kasey Hudson/Florida National News.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat spoke with the media after the Bolts defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 at Amalie Arena Thursday, October 3, 2019. Photo: Kasey Hudson/Florida National News.

 

In postgame interviews, Palat mentioned that everyone wants to win their home opener and noted the momentum this win gives the Bolts as they head out for their two-week road trip, starting with another game versus the Panthers on Saturday, October 5th at BB&T Center.

Stay up to date with all Lightning coverage and updates at FloridaNationalNews.com.

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Kasey Hudson is a Tampa team contributor for Florida National News. | social@floridanationalnews.com

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Lightning Sign D Mikhail Sergachev, F Anthony Cirelli and D Erik Cernak to Eight-Year Contract Extensions

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Photo: NHL.

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, forward Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Erik Cernak each to an eight-year contract extension, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Sergachev, 24, has skated in 362 career regular season games, 358 of them with the Lightning, notching 36 goals and 174 points. He ranks fifth all-time in Tampa Bay franchise history among defensemen for goals and scoring and fourth for assists (138). The former ninth overall pick (of Montreal) in the 2016 NHL Draft has also played in 92 postseason games and posted eight goals and 30 points. He ranks second in Lightning history among defensemen for playoff games, goals, assists (22) and scoring. Sergachev’s eight-year contract is worth an AAV of $8.5 million.

Cirelli, 24, has skated in 294 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, recording 66 goals and 159 points. During the 2021-22 season, Cirelli posted 17-26—43 points in 76 games played, one point shy of his career high 16-28—44 pts. from the 2019-20 season. He led Tampa Bay forwards for blocked shots (67), ranked sixth in the NHL for penalties drawn (42) and finished fifth in Selke Trophy voting in 2021-22. In postseason play, Cirelli has notched 14 goals and 34 points in 92 games, ranking 11th all-time in Lightning playoff history for scoring. Cirelli’s eight-year contract is worth an AAV of $6.25 million.

Cernak, 25, has skated in 226 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, posting 16 goals, 59 points and a plus-51 rating. During the 2021-22 regular season, the Kosice, Slovakia native notched a goal and 13 points and led the Lightning for hits (165) in 55 games. Cernak has played in 73 career postseason games, recording two goals and 19 points. He netted the Stanley Cup-opening goal in Game 1 of the 2021 Cup Final versus Montreal, becoming the first Tampa Bay player to net his first career playoff goal in a Stanley Cup Final. A second round selection of the Los Angeles Kings (43rd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Cernak was traded to the Lightning on February 26, 2017. Cernak’s eight-year contract is worth an AAV of $5.2 million.

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NHL: Lightning Re-Sign Forward Simon Ryfors to a One-Year, Two-Way Contract

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Simon Ryfors had two goals and an assist in the Lightning’s 5-2 win over Nashville in the opening game of the NHL Prospect Showcase Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena. Photo: Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times.

TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Simon Ryfors to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced.

Ryfors, 24, played in 72 games during the regular season for the Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay’s American Hockey League affiliate, posting 11 goals and 35 points, ranking tied for seventh on the Crunch for scoring. He also skated in five Calder Cup Playoff games with the Crunch and notched a goal, assist and a plus-four rating.

The Stockholm, Sweden native originally signed with the Lightning organization on May 12, 2021. Prior to that, he skated seven seasons with Rogle BK of the SHL, tallying 41 goals and 93 points to go along with 165 penalty minutes in 250 games. He set career bests in the SHL in 2020-21 for goals (25), assists (20) and points (45).

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Lightning Acquire F Brandon Hagel, Two 4th Round Picks from Chicago

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Forward Brandon Hagel. Photo: NHL.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Tampa Bay Lightning // The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Brandon Hagel, Chicago’s fourth-round selection in 2022 and fourth-round pick in 2024 from the Blackhawks in exchange for forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk, Tampa’s first-round selection in 2023 and first-round selection in 2024, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today. Both first-round picks the Lightning are sending to Chicago are top 10 protected.

Hagel, 23, has played in 55 games so far this season for Chicago, recording 21 goals and 37 points. Hagel ranks second on the Blackhawks for goals and game-winning goals (3) and fourth for scoring and power-play goals (4). In 108 games with Chicago over three seasons, Hagel has posted 30 goals and 61 points. He made his NHL debut March 11, 2020 versus San Jose, the only game he played during the 2019-20 season. Hagel is under contract through the 2023-2024 season with a salary cap number of $1,500,000.

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