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Lightning youngsters shine in Bolts 4-3 win over Carolina

Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev scores in his first game for the Lightning

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning had a great rebound effort at Carolina on Wednesday to notch their first win of the preseason.

After falling in their preseason opener to the Hurricanes a night earlier, the Bolts never trailed in the rematch against the Canes, winning 4-2 behind goals from Adam Erne, Tye McGinn, Mikhail Sergachev and Boris Katchouk. Erne netted his second in as many nights and leads the Lightning for preseason goal scoring.

"I told all the guys, there was so much good that came out of that game and not a lot of bad," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said after the victory.

Peter Budaj started in net for Tampa Bay and played two periods, giving up just two goals on 20 shots. Michael Leighton entered to start the third and blocked 11-of-12 shots to earn the victory.

The Lightning are now 1-1-0 early in the preseason campaign. They return to the ice Friday at AMALIE Arena against the Nashville Predators.

Read on for observations from the Lightning's one-goal victory.

- Tuesday's preseason opener between Tampa Bay and Carolina was marred by penalties, the refs whistling 18 combined infractions for nearly 26 minutes of power-play time.

Wednesday's rematch saw considerably fewer players sent to the penalty box. The game's first penalty wasn't whistled until 10:38 of the first period when Cory Conacher was called for, you guessed it, slashing.

Only three penalties were called in the first period, six in the second and four in the third.

The result? A free-flowing game with more rhythm and more enjoyment for the spectator.

"Definitely the refs took a little bit of a step back, and I think the players adjusted," Cooper said. "The big time extremes (Tuesday) night, I think everybody met in the middle tonight, and it was a lot better."

- Adam Erne scored three goals in 26 games late in the 2016-17 season for the Lightning and has continued to find the back of the net this preseason. The 2013 second-round draft pick opened the game's scoring after getting the puck in the slot, pirouetting to elude a defenseman and firing a shot past Canes goalie Cam Ward at 6:33.

J.T. Brown and Gabriel Dumont had the assists.

"It was just good work by everybody on the ice," Erne said. "A good, hard forecheck by (Dumont) and (Brown) saw me open in front of the net and I was able to box a guy out and get a good shot off."

Cooper said Erne has gotten better each time he's stepped on the ice in training camp.

"That's what Adam can do is put the puck in the net," Cooper said. "He's had a chance on both nights and he's done it."

- Mikhail Sergachev made his Lightning debut on Wednesday and had a big hand in the victory, scoring a goal at 4:28 of the second period to put the Bolts up 3-1.

The game didn't come easy to Sergachev, however. He admitted he was "super nervous" in the first period.

"I made some bad plays, some turnovers, but in the second I felt better," he said.

Sergachev leaned on his teammates and coaches to help calm him, which allowed him to grow more comfortable as the game progressed.

"They told me to just play my game and not worry about anything else," Sergachev said.

On Sergachev's goal, Brayden Point got him the puck at the top of the left circle, and the talented Russian defenseman went down on one knee to one-time a shot through traffic and past Ward.

"I thought he did extremely well," Cooper said.

- QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "If he was nervous, he didn't show it too much."...Cooper, when asked how they were able to calm Sergachev after a shaky start.

- Boris Katchouk is one prospect who caught the eye of Cooper and the rest of the Lightning coaching staff during training camp, and he had another impressive showing in Raleigh.

With the Bolts clinging to a 3-2 lead, Katchouk slotted home a rebound right after a Tampa Bay power play expired to extend the cushion to two goals.

Katchouk has notched a point in each of the first two preseason games.

"He wants it, and he's done a great job," Cooper said.

- SAVES OF THE NIGHT: Peter Budaj made a pair of stops on a Carolina power play three-quarters of the way through the second period to keep the Lightning in the lead 3-2. Martin Necas sent a shot toward the net that was tipped in front by Jordan Staal, but Budaj reacted quickly to keep the puck out with his glove. Seconds later, Budaj made a point-blank sliding save on the back post to deny Elias Lindholm, who was lurking free behind the play.

"The first one...I just tried to get big out there," Budaj said after the game. "That's a tough play for everybody on like a shot-pass...The second one, I was glad I took a look before because I didn't see the player there but then I looked and he was there. (Jeff) Skinner made a nice play, and I was able to read it."

The Canes power play would eventually expire. Budaj exited the game after 40 solid minutes, making 18 saves on 20 shots, and the Lightning never relinquished the lead after Budaj's late second period heroics.

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