The Tampa Bay Lightning prospects wrapped up their three-game NHL rookie showcase at Nashville’s Ford Ice Center in Antioch, Tenn., with a 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, ending the tournament 1-1-1 on Tuesday morning.
Tied 1-1 in the first period, Florida scored four-straight goals to take command of the game. Logan Shaw netted the go-ahead goal late in the first period for the Panthers.
After falling behind for the third game in a row, the Lightning tied the game in the first on the second goal of the tournament from rookie camp invitee Michael Aviani, who was assisted on the play by Tanner Richard and Ben Thomas. Aviani had two goals in the three-game tournament to lead all Tampa Bay players.
“It’s tough to come in and be a scorer right away,” Aviani said. “You have to start low and go from there. I’m really blessed to be here and have this opportunity. I’m very thankful Tampa Bay has given it to me.”
Florida increased its advantage to 3-1 with a power-play goal by Jayce Hawryluk in the second, the only score in the period.
The Panthers went ahead 5-1 in the third on goals from Connor Brickley and Andrew Blazek.
“We had a quick jump in the beginning and were able to hold that momentum throughout the whole game,” Florida goalie Sam Brittain said.
The Lightning chipped away at the deficit, however. Slater Koekkoek scored immediately after Blazek’s goal to cut it to 5-2, and Cameron Maclise, another rookie camp invitee, added a goal with 7:06 remaining.
With the net empty, Florida’s Juho Lammikko scored in the game’s closing minutes to seal the win for the Panthers.
Andrei Vasilevskiy played the entire game in goal for the Lightning and saved 36 of 41 shots.
Florida outshot Tampa Bay 42-27, including an 18-9 advantage in the first period.
“We were talking in the dressing room about wanting to keep the momentum from the first two games, but it seemed like Florida came and took it from the start and definitely finished it,” Aviani said.
The Bolts committed nine penalties for 21 minutes of penalty time; the Panthers had just four penalties and 11 minutes of penalty time.
Coming off wrist surgery, Lightning forward Adam Erne saw his first game action in some time.
“I definitely had to get my legs underneath me,” the second round pick in the 2013 draft said. “It felt good after a little bit. It was a tough game but Florida is a good team and we just didn’t execute.
The Lightning prospects come home to Tampa Bay Tuesday evening and have Wednesday off before practicing at Amalie Arena on Thursday.