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Bolts explode in third period for 5-3 win over Preds

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos recorded three points in his preseason debut.

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three goals in the third period, breaking a 2-2 deadlock after 40 minutes of play, to win their preseason finale versus the Nashville Predators 5-3.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, making his preseason debut, and linemate Jonathan Drouin each registered three points to lead the way for the Bolts, who finish the exhibition portion of their schedule 3-2-0.

All three of Stamkos' points came on assists.

"I think we got better as the game went on," Stamkos said. "You could tell that the majority of us hadn't played a game in a while, so there was so some rust. We are getting back to the structure that we play as a team. We'll take the good and the bad and work on it. It's just nice to get out there and get the process going of getting back to the way we know we can play."

After falling behind 1-0 in the second period, Tampa Bay tied the game on Nikita Nesterov's second power-play goal of the preseason. Later in the second, the Lightning again rallied from a one-goal deficit, this time Brayden Point leveling the score with his Bolts' preseason best third goal.

"I'm happy with how I played," Point said of his performance in the preseason. "Obviously, they gave me a lot of opportunities to play with some good players, so I'm thankful for that."

The Lightning broke the game open in the third period. Jonathan Drouin netted the game-winner when his shot from the point took a deflection and beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne (31 saves). A little more than four minutes later, Tyler Johnson got on the scoresheet by snapping a wrist shot from the edge of the right circle with one second remaining on a power play.

The Bolts scored multiple power-play goals for the first time this preseason and netted three total during the exhibition schedule.

"We've been working on (the power play) a lot this week," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "I thought our entries were solid, and we scored a lot on it. We had some good looks. You don't go two-for-three every night."

Ondrej Palat was gifted a goal at 13:12 of the third when Rinne went to play a puck in front of his net and Drouin accelerated to block the clear. Rinne was unsure of the puck's whereabouts, and Palat swooped in to send it into the open net.

Five Lightning players - Stamkos (3), Drouin (2), Nesterov (2), Palat (2) and Point (2) - finished with multiple points.

The Bolts outshot Nashville 36-24.

Ben Bishop made his second-consecutive preseason start and stopped 14-of-16 pucks through two periods before giving way to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who earned the victory, his second this preseason, on seven-of-eight saves.

With the exhibition schedule complete, the Lightning shift their focus to the regular season, which begins Thursday at AMALIE Arena versus the Detroit Red Wings, a team the Bolts have bounced in the First Round of the postseason each of the last two seasons.



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