Holding their first scrimmage of training camp Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning held a split squad (excluding a majority of prospects), 40-minute, two-half game that ended with a Marty St. Louis goal for Team White to top Team Blue, 2-1.
Team Blue took the 1-0 lead in the first-half, when Ondrej Palat scored on netminder Anders Lindback, but goalie Cedric Desjardins kept Blue scoreless in the second.
Forward Brett Connolly had the first tally for Team White in the next half to tie the game, before Stamkos and St. Louis worked some fancy passing up the middle on a 2-on-1 opportunity to get the game-winning goal.
STAMKOS WEIGHS-IN ON TAKE ONE
Steven Stamkos, who was paired on a line with Ryan Malone and St. Louis for the White squad, weighed-in on the Lightning's first taste of a simulated game and said not to expect anything too fancy quite yet.
"It's the first time we've played in a game situation," Stamkos said. "Guys are a little rusty and for the young guys, it was there first time getting to show coaches what they can do in game situations, so I'm sure they're a little nervous too."
Stamkos also said that come Wednesday, when Tampa Bay plays in their first preseason tilt against the St. Louis Blues at the Amway Center in Orlando, the experience will give a better idea of how the Bolts are doing thus far.
"Exhibition games are going to be great for the guys to get into," he said. "Just playing against some other guys on other team and vying for spots. That's when you should get an indication if this was a good start."
Overall the first-line center was happy with the scrimmage.
"It was a good test for the guys," Stamkos said. "We had a real good couple days of camp and good skating, but it was good to actually put some of the things we learned into game-like situations. For the young guys, it was good to just get on the ice, see the pace a little bit."
CONNOLLY TALLIES FIRST
For someone who's trying to argue his case for a roster spot on the Bolts, Connolly made a statement, by not only scoring the first goal of the scrimmage, but by clearing the puck in front of the net at the game's end, which was something he said he'd been working on during the 2012-13 season with the Syracuse Crunch – his two-way game.
The strong start was just what Connolly said would show his improved performance.
"I need to play with confidence, that's my game," he said. "I can't be squeezing the stick too tight. I need to play loose."
Connolly played on a line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin Monday and said he seems to click with the two rookies.
"They're both very skilled players and we seemed to complement each other pretty well."
While far from a final product, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper was happy to see some of his teachings be implemented during today's split squad bout.
"It was far from perfection, but they worked really hard, so that was a good sign," Cooper said. "Just a recognition of some defensive situations, little things that might not have gone on in the past with them at the end of the year when we were playing. I was watching some good habits creep in on some of these guys and it was great."
Cooper stepped in on a couple occasions during the game and had teaching moments with the team, but said it was only so that the scenario at the time wasn't forgotten.
When asked a question about brining the physical style of play, Cooper discussed the advantages.
"I still believe there's a little of intimidation involved in the game and if you can pull that edge ahead of somebody else, then 'why wouldn't we take advantage of that?' We don't want our players to play with fear, we want them to be fearless."
ODDS 'N ENDS
Monday's lines/defensive pairings -
Goalies: Lindback, Desjardins
Cooper said there'd be changes before tomorrow's scrimmage as far as line combinations were concerned.
Four goalies (Ben Bishop, Riku Helenius, Anders Lindback,Cedric Desjardins) took part in Monday's scrimmage.
Tuesday's scrimmage will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be streamed live.