After a sluggish start Wednesday in a come-from-behind shootout win over St. Louis, Thursday's Tampa Bay Lightning team was much different for a handful of reasons. Playing with a completely different group of guys, the Bolts managed to deliver offensively and kept teammates out of the penalty box, which were two things they struggled with Wednesday.
"I thought it was a great start to the game," said second star Steven Stamkos. "There was a couple goals quick and I thought at least for the first 50 minutes we kind of kept the pressure on them. It's an exhibition game, but at the same time you create winning attitudes and it was nice to see, especially some of the younger guys step up and play well tonight."
One similarity though was rookie Brett Connolly, who had a performance somewhat like forward Adam Erne's two goals and shootout game winner versus the Blues.
TRAINING CAMP STANDOUT
Connolly, who scored two goals during intrasquad scrimmages earlier this week, added the first and fourth goals for Tampa Bay Thursday.
"It's always nice to get that first one and then extend the lead on another one," Connolly said. "There were a lot of guys who contributed and it was a team effort tonight."
And as training camp moves forward, Connolly's confidence continues to grow.
"I'm keeping the same mindset as I did last year and that's just to take it one day at a time and just try to be the most I can be every single day. I feel like I've done that so far," he said.
Bolts prospect Adam Erne was suspended for three preseason games for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka during Wednesday's preseason-opener in Orlando, as announced by the NHL's Player Safety Association.
Cooper defended Erne, but understood the need for player safety.
"I understand where the league's going with everything and I'm a proponent of it," Cooper said. "You could argue both ways. 'Did he target the head?' I don't think he targeted the head. 'Did he hit the head?' He did hit the head. 'Does he have to answer the bell for what he did, he does."
Looking ahead to the Bolts next game, Cooper said it'll be time to mix-and-match lines Friday in what he expects to be a much better St. Louis Blues team.
"There'll be guys who played tonight, who'll play tomorrow," he said. "As you can see, teams at home probably put in a little stronger lineup than teams do on the road so we expect St. Louis will have a much different team at home than they did last night. We want to put some of our guys up against them and see how they do."
ODDS 'N ENDS
- Forward Henri Ikonen is okay according to Cooper, who also said he was in practice skating Thursday.
- Malone, Hedman and Stamkos were designated as alternate captains during Thursday's game, all donning "A's" on their sweaters.
- Netminders Riku Helenius and Cedrick Desjardins split ice time during today's contest. Helenius was in net for 30:43 and stopped all 15 shots he faced, while Desjardins manned the crease for 29:00 and managed to block 16 of 17.
- No. 3 draft pick Jonathan Drouin finished his preseason debut with 12:23 of total ice time and skating 1:34 on the power-play. He had one shot in the game.