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Lightning down Florida 4-2 for second victory of preseason

Paquette, Gourde, Kucherov and Stamkos all scored for the Bolts

by Bryan Burns /

Tampa Bay's superstars took center stage in the Lightning's 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers in the penultimate preseason game for both teams.

Defending Hart, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay trophy winner Nikita Kucherov scored with the backhand on a breakaway 13:16 into the final period for the eventual game-winning goal and a 3-1 Lightning lead.

Steven Stamkos added to the lead 10 seconds later on a power play, lining up a one-timer from his office in the left circle for his first marker of the preseason.

The Lightning improved to 2-3-1 this preseason with one more game to play, that coming Saturday at AMALIE Arena versus Florida (7 p.m. puck drop), the third of five-straight games against the Panthers to end the preseason and start the regular season.

Tampa Bay netted four-consecutive goals after entering the first intermission down 1-0 following Owen Tippett's two-on-one breakaway finish past Lightning goalie Curtis McElhinney (30 saves on 32 shots in a 60-minute effort). Cedric Paquette got the Bolts on the board at 14:13 of the second period, the centerman intercepting a pass in front of the Panthers' net and shooting quickly to beat Sergei Bobrovsky (21-of-25 saves).

Yanni Gourde tipped Kevin Shattenkirk's blast from above the circles :28 seconds before the end of the second period to put the Bolts in the lead for good 2-1.

The goals for Paquette and Gourde were the first of the preseason for both.

Evgenii Dadonov scored on the power play with 1:40 left for the 4-2 final.

Tyler Johnson, Pat Maroon, Jan Rutta, Carter Verhaeghe, Victor Hedman and Shattenkirk all posted an assist in the victory for the Lightning. Verhaeghe, who continues to make a strong case to be included on the Opening Night roster, leads the Bolts for scoring this preseason with two goals and three assists and has points in four-straight games.

Florida had 32-25 advantage in shots. The Lightning have been outshot in five of their six games this preseason, and they finished even on shots with Nashville in the sixth contest.

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