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Lightning blank Florida 2-0 for first preseason win

Kristers Gudļevskis stops all 21 shots to help lift the Bolts to their first win of the preseason at AMALIE Arena.

by Bryan Burns /

Behind a 21-save effort from goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, the Tampa Bay Lightning earned their first win of the preseason, shutting out the Florida Panthers 2-0 on Thursday night at AMALIE Arena.

Gudlevskis, who played well in the preseason opener on Tuesday with 21 saves on 23 shots, continued his strong camp with another solid effort against the Panthers.

"Every year you just watch him improve and he's got more poise," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "He had to play the puck a lot tonight, which was not one of his strong suits when he came in but he's getting better at that. You just see him improving in all areas. He earned his shutout tonight. It's just great that this organization's got depth at that position."

Video: Point and Gudlevskis shine in Bolts 2-0 victory

Gudlevskis got some help from his teammates in front of him too. The Lightning limited Florida to 21 shots while recording 28 of their own. During a second-period power play, Slater Koekkoek backhanded a puck bound for the back of the net off the line to keep the Bolts (1-1) in the lead.

Gudlevskis was never severely tested during the victory.

"The guys did a hell of a job today," Gudlevskis said. "I thought it was just outstanding."

Jeremy Morin, who signed a one-year contract with the Lightning on the first day of free agency during the offseason, got the Bolts on the board 3:54 into the second period, taking advantage of a loose puck that ended up in front of the Panthers' goal. Morin buried the wide-open opportunity for a 1-0 Lightning lead.

"Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't, but it's nice to get those breaks," Morin said. "We have to take advantage of them and bury them.

Brayden Point scored his second goal in as many preseason games, following up on Reto Berra's save against Morin and batting the puck into the open side of the goal. Point's goal gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead at 14:48 of the third period and would prove to be all the scoring the Bolts would need.

"Two games in a row I've gotten a good bounce," Point said.

James Reimer played the first and second periods in net for Florida (1-2) and made 18 of 19 saves before giving way to Berra, who stopped eight of the nine shots he faced.

The Lightning continue their three-games-in-three-days portion of the preseason schedule when they travel to Carolina Friday to face the Hurricanes. On Saturday, the Bolts play the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. 

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