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Panthers’ Joe Thornton set to make 2022 postseason debut in Game 4 vs. Lightning

Also, Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette disputes a WDAE radio report that players were out late on Sunday night.
Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton (19) on the ice with his team during warm ups before taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on Monday, May 23, 2022 in Tampa. Thornton set to make his 2022 postseason debut in Game 4,
Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton (19) on the ice with his team during warm ups before taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on Monday, May 23, 2022 in Tampa. Thornton set to make his 2022 postseason debut in Game 4, [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 23|Updated May 23

TAMPA — Panthers veteran forward Joe Thornton is set to make his 2022 postseason debut tonight against the Lightning.

Thornton, an NHL veteran of 24 years, will step into the lineup along with forward Anton Lundell (1-0—1 in eight games). Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will remain in net.

Thornton, 42, has 18 years of playoff experience, logging minutes in 186 games, the second-highest count among active players (Zdeno Chara has played in 200 postseason games). Thornton’s recorded 134 points (102 assists) in that time.

“I think (Thornton) will bring energy and enthusiasm,” Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “(He) rubs off on our guys and I think we need that. I think they’re a little bit down the last couple of games, especially after Game 2, and we need a little bit more energy, more life out of our group here tonight.”

With Thornton and Lundell in the lineup, Brunette said forwards Anthony Duclair (1-2—3 in eight games) and Ryan Lomberg (1-0—1 in five games) will sit out.

Meanwhile, the Lightning do not anticipate any lineup changes, going with an adjusted lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the fourth straight game.

Tampa Bay leads the Panthers 3-0 in the best-of-seven second-round series. Tonight will mark the second half of the back-to-back following Tampa Bay’s 5-1 win Sunday.

The Lightning are 4-0 when leading a series 3-0. A win against the Panthers would mark the second time in NHL history a defending Stanley Cup champion has swept the Presidents’ Trophy winner in the playoffs.

Andrew Brunette disputes WDAE report

Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette disputes a WDAE radio report that players were out late on Sunday night, while talking with the media before taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on Monday, May 23, 2022 in Tampa.
Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette disputes a WDAE radio report that players were out late on Sunday night, while talking with the media before taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on Monday, May 23, 2022 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

WDAE sports radio host Aaron Jacobson reported today on the “Pat and Aaron Show” that some of the Panthers players were out after Sunday’s game until 3 a.m.

“According to a very trusted source, a good source,” Jacobson said, “this happened: a lot of the Panthers team, I don’t want to say all of them ... they were partying late into the night last night.”

During pregame media availability, Brunette disputed the report.

“No, I did not hear any of that,” Brunette said. “I don’t know where that comes. I guess, probably in our universe, probably check your sources. I don’t think that was the case last night.”

Brandon Hagel fined for boarding call in Game 3

Panthers center Eetu Luostarinen (27) falls to the ice after being cross checked during the first period of Game 3.
Panthers center Eetu Luostarinen (27) falls to the ice after being cross checked during the first period of Game 3. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
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Lightning forward Brandon Hagel was assessed a $3,750 fine, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, for his boarding hit on Florida forward Eetu Luostarinen. The money will go toward the players’ emergency assistance fund.

Hagel cross-checked Luostarinen in his lower back at the goal line, sending the player front first into the boards behind the Lightning goal. Hagel was assessed a cross-checking minor at the 15:29 mark of the first period in Game 3.

Projected Tampa Bay lines

Forwards:

Steven Stamkos-Anthony Cirelli-Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn-Nick Paul-Ondrej Palat

Brandon Hagel-Ross Colton-Corey Perry

Pat Maroon-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Defensemen:

Victor Hedman-Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh-Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev-Cal Foote

Jan Rutta

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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