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What to watch this weekend in Tampa Bay sports

The Lightning open the NHL season in Tampa, while the Bucs travel to New Orleans.
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, left, stops a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli as Panthers left wing Mike Hoffman trails the play during an overtime period of an NHL preseason hockey game. [CHRIS O'MEARA | AP]
Published Oct. 2

LIGHTNING: THE PUCK DROPS HERE

Can the Bolts cure the symptoms of their playoff collapse last season after dominating the NHL? The road to redemption starts Thursday night when Tampa Bay opens the 2019-20 season at home against the Florida Panthers. The teams play again Saturday across the state in Sunrise. (The Lightning follow up their first road game with one Sunday at Carolina.) Ticket prices vary. 7 p.m. Thursday. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-6500. ticketmaster.com. TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 970-AM.

BUCS: BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS

Tampa Bay scored 55 points in the wild, upset road win over the Rams (but allowed 517 passing yards!), and the next two weeks will give us a good read on whether they can contend in the NFC South with consecutive division games. First up, it’s the Saints at New Orleans. The Saints are without Drew Brees — that has to be a good thing, right? 1 p.m. Sunday. TV/radio: Fox; 97.9-FM.

BICYCLING: RAILS TO TRAILS

Cyclists of all skill levels can explore old-Florida charm at the annual Rails to Trails ride that begins and ends at the trail head in Inverness. The 46-mile paved Withlacoochee State Trail takes riders on a meandering trip through one of the top destination trails in the country. There will be a continental breakfast before setting out for a ride of up to 100 miles. It ends with a catered lunch and medals for those who complete the Century (100 mile) and Metric Century (62 mile) rides. $40-$45, $15 children. 7 a.m. Sunday. Inverness Trail Head, 315 N Apopka Ave., Inverness. (352) 513-4183.

RUNNING

Halloween Glo Run: Put on a running-friendly costume for this untimed, glow-in-the-dark trail run. $10, $20 family. 8 p.m. Saturday. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016.

PCOS Challenge: A 5K run-walk to benefit the fight against Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. $25, $10 ages 12 and younger. 7 a.m. Saturday. Al Lopez Park, 4810 N Himes Ave., Tampa. (404) 855-7244. events.pcoschallenge.org.

Michael DaCosta Memorial Run: A 5K run with a dog costume contest. Benefits Kind Mouse to feed Pinellas County children. $40-$50, $10 kids. 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Walsingham Park, 12615 102nd Ave. N, Largo. (727) 518-5575.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. USF coach Brian Gregory hopes to sign two players in the 2020 recruiting cycle. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The combo guard from Georgia is the highest-ranked Bulls signee of the Rivals era
  2. South Florida offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    The Bulls have scored 31 first-quarter points, second-fewest in the American Athletic Conference
  3. Bucs punter Bradley Pinion (8) and his wife, launched their "Punts for Pups" program in partnership with the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center where they'll sponsor a dog for every punt he kicks within the 20-yard line. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Buccaneers punter and his wife will cover the fees of adopting a dog at the shelter every time he drops a punt inside the 20.
  4. Tre'von Riggins, a University of Miami commit, has been a force for the Lakewood defense since he transferred from IMG Academy. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The “Duke Energy Boys” have helped drive an unbeaten season, not giving up a touchdown in seven games.
  5. Kyle Busch (18) approaches Turn 1 during the NASCAR Cup Series championship auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    Next year, NASCAR will move its finale away from south Florida, its host since 2002.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves kneels in the end zone after the Seattle Seahawks defeated his team in overtime in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer) JOHN FROSCHAUER  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: It’s a mailbag episode, with answers on Jameis Winston’s future, Lavonte David’s season, Mike Evans’ plight, Kevin Cash’s third-place finish and Charlie Strong’s job...
  7. Mitchell quarterback Ezra Brennan has already surpassed 2,000 yards passing this season. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    The learning curve isn’t too steep for the first-year Mustangs starter, whose unflappable nature can be traced to the other sport he excels in — baseball.
  8. Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor of Plant High makes a move around Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Gaziano on Nov. 2  in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 34-3. DOUG MCSCHOOLER  |  AP
    Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota have become feel-good stories in college football this season, with coaches and players who have roots locally.
  9. Runners of all stripes, from beginners and kids to seasoned half-marathoners, will take part in St. Pete Run Fest this weekend. Tampa Bay Times (2017)
    The Saints come marching in, St. Pete Run Fest returns and fishing and car buffs have expos to explore.
  10. Clearwater Central Catholic's Zac Elam says that one of the offensive line's strengths is that "we’re really close as a group." DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    While often inconspicuous, the Marauders’ offensive line knows its value this season.
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