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Mikhail Sergachev to make Lightning debut in Raleigh

Peter Budaj and Michael Leighton to split time in net

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Blue line prospect Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay's prized offseason pickup, will see his first game action in a Lightning uniform tonight when the Bolts travel to Raleigh to rematch the Carolina Hurricanes.

Sergachev has impressed Lightning coaches and management during the team's development camp in late June, a pair of exhibition games against Nashville Predators prospects during Hurricane Irma and again during the first week of training camp.

Now it's time for Sergachev to show what he can do in a game situation against players from other teams.

The Lightning are playing their second preseason game after falling to the Hurricanes 2-1 at AMALIE Arena on Tuesday.

"Obviously, I'm nervous," Sergachev said. "It's the first real game against the big boys. I'm nervous, but I'm going to feel better before the game."

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said he wants to see Sergachev continue the improvement he's shown throughout camp when he goes up against the Canes tonight.

"Like I've said all week, a lot of these guys are getting better and better as it goes," Cooper said. "Just like our game last night, we were way better in the third than the first, and that's what we're looking for. The same goes for (Sergachev)."

Sergachev said he has a few aspects of his game he wants to show the staff tonight.

"That I can handle the pace because we're going to play against a full roster for the Hurricanes," he said. "That I can handle the pace and create some offense and play good defense."

Video: Cooper on Cirelli and VolkovFOOTE GETS MAJOR MINUTES: Tampa Bay's 2017 first round draft pick Cal Foote led the Lightning for time on ice in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Carolina after logging 21:56.

Most of the defenseman's ice time was a result of the numerous penalties called against both teams. Tuesday's preseason opener for the Bolts featured 18 penalties and nearly 26 minutes of power-play time for both teams combined.

Foote said he was comfortable with the increased work load, even with it being his first NHL action.

"I think there's so much adrenaline the first game, you're up for anything," Foote said. "It was cool playing some special teams. There was a lot of it, maybe a little bit too much, but it was awesome."

Foote's father Adam, who played 19 seasons in the NHL, attended Tuesday's game and got a chance to talk to his son and assess his game following the contest.

Anything stand out about his father's pointers?

"Not really too detailed," Cal answered. "But just keep on moving my feet and keep on working to get up in the play."

Video: Koekkoek on adjusting to penalty callsCIRELLI MAKING AN IMPRESSION: Anthony Cirelli showed a physicality in his game during Tuesday's loss that sometimes gets overshadowed with his outstanding skill and offensive ability.

Cooper said Cirelli's really worked to develop that aspect of his game as well all other areas of his game.

"He just does everything well," Cooper said. "It's really hard to poke holes in his game. He's quietly a really good hockey player. He can dish the puck. He can put the puck in the net. He can win draws. He can be physical. He's just one of those reliable guys. At a time when we needed him to be like that, he can do that. Cirelli's one of those guys who's really progressed."

Cirelli was brought up to Syracuse for the Crunch's run to the Calder Cup Finals following the end of his junior season and played every game of the Cup Final against Grand Rapids, which has given him plenty of confidence entering training camp.

"He got in the lineup and stuck in the lineup," Cooper said. "That says a lot about the kid's development."

IN NET: Goalies Peter Budaj and Michael Leighton will make the trip to Raleigh for tonight's game. Leighton made 20-of-22 saves in Tuesday's loss to the Canes. Budaj has yet to play in the 2017 preseason.

Cooper said both netminders should play tonight but was unsure what kind of split the two might have.

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