Lightning try to avoid fifth straight loss vs. Panthers

The struggling Tampa Bay Lightning will try to avoid a and-home series at St. Pete Times Forum.

Tonight's test is also the home opener for the Lightning, who began this season on a five-game road trip.

Tampa Bay had a strong 25-11-5 record on home ice last season before making a surprise run to the Eastern Conference finals. The Lightning came within one win of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost a decisive Game 7 in Boston by a 1-0 score.

The Lightning opened the 2011-12 campaign with a 5-1 victory in Carolina, but that was Tampa's only win on its season-opening trip.

Tampa Bay fell to 1-2-2 on the year after losing a shootout Saturday in Sunrise. Florida's Marcel Goc was the only successful shootout participant, giving the Panthers a 3-2 win in the opener of the home-and-home set.

Ed Jovanovski and Kris Versteeg each scored in regulation for Florida, which won its home opener after splitting its first two games on the road.

"It was great out there and most importantly was that we got the win," said Jovanovski. "That's what we're here for and the longer you go into your career the more the wins mean to you."

Jose Theodore stopped 28 shots, including five in overtime, while Mathieu Garon made 36 saves in defeat.

"I think we played a great game today and battled back twice," said Garon. "That shows you how hard it can be in this league, that we had to fight this hard just to get the one point."

Marc-Andre Bergeron lit the lamp twice in the third period for the Lightning.

Florida won four of six meetings with the Lightning last season and has taken five of seven and eight of 12 overall in the series. The Panthers also have three wins in their last five trips to Tampa.