A quarter of a century ago, one man's dream became a reality. On October 7, 1992, the journey began for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Phil Esposito and his brother Tony brought hockey to Tampa Bay. The Bolts first game was played at the Florida State Fairgrounds' Expo Hall, which only held 11,000 people.
Since that game, the Lightning have won a Stanley Cup, made it to the playoffs nine times and, on Oct. 6, started the 2017-18 season off with a bang: Ondrej Palat scored the first and final goal of the night. In between, the game teetered back and forth as the sold-out crowd rumbled like — well, thunder, actually, throughout the arena. The two teams have faced each other 126 times — the Lightning has won 52 times; the Panthers, 51.
The Bolts have won their past six home openers with a 16-7-0 record, the best winning percentage in the NHL.
The Lightning will face the Florida Panthers again in the Panthers’ home opener Oct. 7 at BB&T Arena in Sunrise. The Bolts play the Washington Capitals at Amalie on Oct. 9 night, then face Stanley Cup champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Oct. 12.