ESPN's slate of exclusive broadcasts continues on Friday with the first matchup in the Battle of Florida for 2022-23. The Florida Panthers are hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning, with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and Hulu.
As an added bonus, there will be a Star Watch alternate broadcast presentation on ESPN+. For this game, fans can follow Matthew Tkachuk and Steven Stamkos with isolated cameras and statistics. The Star Watch feed will also include the primary game camera, so viewers won't miss any action.
To help get you ready for the game, we've put together a guide on all the key players to watch for each team, including in-depth statistical insights from ESPN Stats & Information, and more.
This season, 103 exclusive games will be broadcast across ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu and ABC. The complete broadcast schedule can be found here.
The Lightning have won just one game out of four this season, marking their worst four-game start since 2008-09 (two points through four games). The last time the Lightning had just one win through five games was in 2011-12.
Tampa Bay has given up 14 goals through four games, and eight of those 14 goals have come in the third period, tied with the Kings for the second most in the NHL this season. Only the Canucks have given up more (nine).
Since 2012-2013, the Lightning have allowed 14 or more goals through four games just two other times: 17 in 2021-22 and 15 in 2017-18.
Tampa Bay has scored just 10 goals through four games, tied for 22nd in the league. It is also the fewest goals that the Lightning have scored through four games since 2008-09 when they scored eight.
Through four games, the Lightning have allowed 136 shots against. It's the eighth most in the NHL, and it is the ninth most through four games in franchise history.
Stamkos' six goals have come during a four-game goal scoring streak to start the season, which is now the second longest streak to start the season in franchise history. Nikita Kucherov had a seven-game goal-scoring streak in 2017-18, during which he scored eight goals total.
Stamkos has scored 487 goals in his career, and 37 of them have come against the Panthers during the regular season. Those are his most goals against a single opponent in the NHL.
The Panthers will aim for their fourth win in the first five games. Those four wins would be tied for the second most through five games in franchise history.
Florida has won its only home game so far this season, after setting a single-season home-ice record in 2021-22 in numerous categories: goals (191), wins (34), points (68), winning streak (11 games twice), shorthanded goals (7) and overtime goals (7).
The Panthers are averaging 35.8 shots on goal per game, the eighth highest average in the NHL. Last season they averaged the most shots on goal per game of any team in the league, at 37.3.
Florida has played Tampa Bay 28 times since the start of the 2016-17 season and have a record of 11-11-6. Those 11 regulation losses are tied for the most against a single opponent during that span (they have 11 against the Carolina Hurricanes as well).
Florida has scored 13 goals through four games, and 10 of those goals have come while playing at 5-on-5, which is tied for the fourth most in the NHL in that situation.
After being acquired in the offseason from the Calgary Flames, Tkachuk has wasted no time getting used to Florida as he currently leads all Panthers players with six points in four games.
Tkachuk became the 37th player in franchise history to score a goal in their Panthers debut with an empty-net goal Oct. 13 at the New York Islanders. He is the sixth player in club history to tally a goal in his first two games with Florida.