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Tampa Bay Lightning 2011-12 schedule starts with five-game road trip

There are no 12-game home stands on the Lightning's 2011-12 schedule, as there was last season.

But there is a seven-gamer from March 10-24, part of a season-ending stretch of 35 games in which Tampa Bay plays a comforting 21 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

That is just one of the highlights from the schedule that opens with a season-long, five-game road trip, beginning Oct. 7 at Carolina. Lightning spokesman Bill Wickett said the team did not request the trip, but it does allow renovations at the Times Forum more time to finish.

Start times for Saturday home games have been changed to 7 p.m. Weekday starts stay at 7:30.

"This gives our fans, particularly families, the opportunity to get in and out of the arena earlier," Wickett said. "A good portion of our fan base is asking for earlier start times, so this will give us a chance to effectively measure the response."

Other highlights:

• The home opener is Oct. 17 against the Panthers.

• There are a season-most 10 home games in March.

• Steve Yzerman makes his first trip to Detroit as Lightning GM on Nov. 30.

• There are 10 sets of back-to-back games.

• There are three trips to Winnipeg, including the April 7 season finale, because of the relocation of the Atlanta franchise.

• Tampa Bay will not visit western Canada, Los Angeles or Anaheim.

Tampa Bay Lightning 2011-12 schedule starts with five-game road trip 06/23/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 6:53pm]

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