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Good Evening America! Florida Panthers v Pittsburgh Penguins on National TV on Tuesday

Hockeyontv The Panthers have a rare date on national television on Tuesday as Versus will broadcast the Penguins' home opener.

Florida was left off the Versus schedule last season. 

Even though the spotlight is on the Penguins, the Panthers got a rare national shout out as promos for Tuesday's game ran on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

NBC now owns Versus -- or Versus now owns NBC, whatever -- and will re-brand the network (NBC Sports Channel) in January. 

“It's a great opportunity and every professional athlete wants that certain measure of respect,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

“We have to earn the national television games. We were 28th in the league last year, haven't been to the playoffs in some time. That's part of our history. But it's nice to play a game on the national stage. The guys will be up for that, for sure.''

Dineen doesn't have to do much motivating for the opening few games as the Panthers partake in four different home openers – including their own on Saturday.

Against the Islanders, fans started tailgating 10 hours before the game started. By the time the team walked from their hotel to the Nassau Coliseum, the parking lot was filled with fans tossing footballs, grilling – and talking a little trash to the guys in the suits and ties.

“I didn't know if I was going to be handed a kielbasa or punched in the face,'' Dineen joked. “That was a great atmosphere to start the game. The nice thing was being able to suck the life out of the place by our play. You really like that feeling.''

-- Dineen said he didn't expect any changes to the Panthers lineup on Tuesday, meaning rookie Erik Gudbranson remains in and Keaton Ellerby and Evgeny Dadonov will sit.

Penguins TUESDAY: PANTHERS AT PENGUINS

Where, When: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh; 7:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Versus/WQAM-560

Series: Penguins lead 35-30-4

The game: The Panthers opened with a 2-0 victory over the host Islanders and are looking for their first 2-0 start since 2005. Pittsburgh, which is expected  to be without star Sidney Crosby (concussion), is 2-0-1 after a western Canadian trip to start the season. The Penguins won all four against Florida last season (the Panthers got one of the possible eight points) and have won seven of the past eight in the series.

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I'm surprised that Dadonov is out for Tuesday...Carter was a penalty machine on Saturday night... Just sayin!

Maybe "Yorkman" is paying attention, but I doubt it. Dineen even made mention of how nice the atmosphere in the parking lot was. It was an opportunity for fans to bond, and there is no harm in it. But SSE refuses to allow fans of the Panthers to tailgate. Sure, people come out and have a few drinks before the games, but the organization frowns upon fans actually tailgating and eating in the lots. I suppose it's because if they have a hotdog in parking lot before the game, they are less likely to stand by and get raped for a $9 soda and an $8 hotdog inside the building.

You know what I like here:

“That was a great atmosphere to start the game. The nice thing was being able to suck the life out of the place by our play"

That is a great attitude for the manager to have. Long may it continue!

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