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Booth, Panthers look for second straight win

Tampa Bay (5-4-4) at Florida (5-8-1), 7:30 pm EDT

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- David Booth has seemingly taken

over as the Florida Panthers' leader.

After notching his first career hat trick, Booth looks to help

the Panthers build more momentum when they host the Tampa Bay

Lightning on Wednesday.

Florida traded former captain and superstar scorer Olli Jokinen

to the Phoenix Coyotes in the offseason and needed a player to

fill his void. Thus far, Booth has done that.

In the Panthers' first 14 games, Booth has a team-leading seven

goals. Three of those came when he helped the Panthers break a

six-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim

Ducks on Sunday.

Booth, who scored 22 goals last year in his first full NHL

season, has impressed coach Peter DeBoer.

"He's becoming a dominant player," DeBoer said. "Really, right

from training camp, he came in and he was our most fit player in

testing. He worked awful hard this summer. He's a perfect

example of a guy who wasn't going to sit back on a 20-plus goal

year last year and make it the highlight of his career.

"He's come back to show that it's just the tip of the iceberg.

He's going to do more than that. I think he's going to be a

special player for a long time."

Before his recent surge, Booth had one point in his previous 11

games. Similarly, the Panthers struggled as well and look to

take advantage of the Lightning, who have dropped three of four.

Tampa Bay is coming off a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals in

which backup goaltender Olaf Kolzig failed to stymie his former

team.

Mike Smith will likely be back in goal, hoping to build off his

recent success. The 26-year-old has yielded more than three

goals just twice in his last 10 games and boasts a stellar 2.32

goals-against average.

His efforts have not been enough to negate the Lightning's

dormant offense. They rank last in the NHL in total goals (30)

and have registered just two in each of their last three games.

Captain Vincent Lecavalier has no goals and one assist in that

span.

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