TAMPA —C Brayden Point called it an honor to be named the first star in Friday's season-opening 5-3 victory against the Panthers after he finished with a goal and two assists.
"We had so many guys that played so well that could have been a first star easy," he said.
If stars were awarded to lines, Point would have walked away with that, too, after he and wings Ondrej Palat (two goals) and Yanni Gourde turned in an impressive performance.
"They were the best line," coach Jon Cooper said.
Palat scored the first and final goals of the night, the last an empty-netter. Point scored 25 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0.
"That line carried us and played extremely well," C Steven Stamkos said. "Hopefully that's a sign of things to come, because if that's the case, we'll have three offensive lines that can contribute, and that's going to be a tough matchup for other teams."
Dotchin a surprise scratch
D Jake Dotchin, who was paired with Victor Hedman during the second half of last season, was a surprise healthy scratch.
Dotchin played in only the final preseason game after violating an unspecified team rule. Cooper, when asked after the morning skate why Dotchin would not be in the lineup, said, "You have 23 guys, 20 get to play. You've probably heard this answer — it's monotonous — but not everyone is going to play every single night. When your name is called, you've just got to be ready to help us win, and that's it."
The Lightning opened the season with eight defensemen. One of them, rookie Mikhail Sergachev, can play up to nine games before the Lightning can opt to send him to his junior team and not have his entry-level contract kick in. Another is Slater Koekkoek, who was a healthy scratch. It's possible the Lightning is shopping a defenseman.
Dan Girardi, signed in offseason free agency, began the game paired with Hedman, but that didn't last long. Hedman and Anton Stralman were reunited before the first period was over.
"You look all around the league," Cooper said, "I don't know if there's a d-core that has stayed completely intact."
No protest from J.T.
RW J.T. Brown, who raised his right fist over his head during the playing of the national anthem before a Sept. 28 preseason game against the Panthers in Sunrise and said he would consider doing it before a regular-season game, did not get the opportunity Friday. Though Brown was introduced with his teammates during the pregame ceremony, he was a healthy scratch and was not on the bench during the anthem.
The Lightning has not announced alternate captains for the season. It started with D Braydon Coburn and RW Ryan Callahan wearing A's.
Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.