Florida Panthers center Eetu Luostarinen (27) works around Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole (28) during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Lightning to open regular season against New York Rangers

The Tampa Bay Lightning opens their regular season against the New York Rangers on Oct. 11. This matchup, at Madison Square Garden, features an Eastern Conference Final rematch. Last season, the Lightning beat the Rangers in six games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning ended preseason play on Saturday night, beating their in-state rival, the Florida Panthers, 5-2. Vladislav Namestnikov led the Bolts to victory, recording a four-point night with a hat trick and one assist.

To finalize the opening night roster, the Lightning sent Nick Perbix and P.C. Labrie down to the Syracuse Crunch. However, Anthony Cirelli and Zach Bogosian will miss the beginning of the season as they both recover from shoulder surgeries.

Also ahead of Tuesday’s matchup, the Lightning suspended defensemen Ian Cole following grooming and sexual assault allegations.

New York Rangers

The Rangers wrapped up preseason play with a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders.

Kaapo Kakko scored the lone goal for the Rangers. He is likely to emerge on the top line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Kakko has experience on the first line from previous seasons and looks to be favored in that slot.

In finalizing the regular season roster, the Rangers signed Jimmy Vesey to a one-year deal. Vesey was in Rangers’ training camp on a professional tryout contract, where he recorded three points and six blocked shots. The forward returns home, as he played his first three seasons with the Rangers from 2016 to 2019.

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The Matchup

With both teams made deep playoff runs last season, and there are high expectations looming over their respective seasons.

The Lightning, with a pair of top players on injury reserve, will look to some new faces, including Cole Koepke, Philippe Myers and Haydn Fleury, to step up. Also, all eyes will be on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to put up another big season.

Broadcaster Barry Melrose said while the team is going to look different this year, Vasilevskiy will lead the team to success.

After falling to the Lightning in last year’s Eastern Conference Final, the Rangers will be out for revenge. This game offers an opportunity for both teams to open their seasons with a high intensity matchup.

Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.

About Victoria Siwek

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