Lightning hurricanes: 4 things we learned
TAMPA – After an uninspiring 6-2 loss to the Predators on Thursday night, the Lightning had some fun on Friday against the Hurricanes, leading to their first pre-season win.
“We just needed a little flashback to find out where we were in the preseason,” said coach Jon Cooper after the 8-5 win. “And it’s not necessarily about taking wins and losses into account. … These are guys who are stepping up and wanting to make a good impression.
A three-goal flurry in 2.5 minutes midway through the third period made a good impression. Even with nine veterans skating, some of the young talents also helped carry the load.
Here are four things we learned from the game:
New arrivals Perry, Bellemare as announced
If you weren’t convinced new additions Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would fit, Friday was a good indication that the veteran forwards are getting along just fine.
Skating in a line with Pat Maroon, the trio made their way around the ice, looking for pucks in the corners and staying heavy on the front chess.
Bellemare and Perry bring a plague-type level of play. Perry stayed in and around the crease, digging around Carolina goalie Antti Raanta, while Bellemare impacted the penalty kill, following the puck with ease and finding holes to clear the puck over the wire. time.
Perry scored to tie it at 3 at the end of the second period on a power play just outside the enclosure. He added a goal from an empty net with 1:42 to go. Getting into these dirty areas will benefit the Lightning if it gets the expected power play time.
Midway through the third period, Maroon scored the Lightning’s fourth goal on an assist from Bellemare.
Perry and Bellemare’s seasoned play – the duo have played 23 combined years in the NHL – is a plus, but their off-ice personalities make them even more valuable. Cooper said the duo spend a lot of time talking to their teammates, especially the younger ones, and helping to “uplift” those around them.
“They’re great on the bench,” Cooper said. “They are vocal, they are talkative.”
Kucherov in mid-season form
Nikita Kucherov led the last playoffs with 32 points (eight goals), and if his preseason debut was any indication, he’s set for the same kind of performance this regular season.
Kucherov recovered a rebound off defenseman Jan Rutta’s board with just over nine minutes to go in the first half and used the boards to pass behind his back to center Brayden Point in the center of the ice.
Point ran over the ice and passed a pass for forward Ondrej Palat from the bottom of the left face-off circle. Palat then slid the puck past Raanta to tie the score at 1. Kucherov had three assists and over 17 minutes of skating on the top line with Point and Palat, as usual.
Keep an eye on Fortier
Forward Gabriel Fortier, a second-round draft pick in 2018, showed his speed by scoring the Lightning’s second goal. And he scored two straight goals late in the third period for a hat trick.
“You win with guys like Fortier,” Cooper said. “He’s got a lot of progress to make in his game, but he’s just one of those guys who gets better every year and he’s in competition. You want these guys.
Fortier, 21, is among the hopefuls battling for a place on the list. He thinks he sent a good message to the staff on Friday.
“I want to work hard when I’m skating, when I’m on the puck, on the front failure,” he said. “That’s how I got it, and I think I did well (Friday).”
Hedman adjusts his pre-game routine
Victor Hedman does not like to call himself superstitious. He just habits.
Since before the 2017-18 season, Hedman had made a habit poking the toe of his stick between the fingers of then-assistant equipment manager Rob Kennedy, who would be sprawled across the boards every pre-game skate. After going through the eight gaps twice, he hit Kennedy in the shoulder and spun around to the Lightning’s side of the ice, meeting Palat in front of the team bench with another shoulder hump.
This year, Hedman’s pre-game routine looks a little different without Kennedy, whose contract has not been renewed, said team spokesman Brian Breseman. Hedman went straight to his knees, meeting Palat near the team bench for their shoulder bump.
Contact Mari Faiello at [email protected]. Follow @faiello_mari.
• • •
The Tampa Bay Times commemorated the Lightning’s second straight Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover tabletop book, Knock twice. Order now.
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.