For a moment, Radim Salda wasn't sure he'd be able to finish the final game of the first day of 3-on-3 tournament action at Lightning Development Camp Friday.
Midway through the first half of a matchup between a pair of undefeated squads - Salda's Team St. Louis versus Team Esposito - at the Ice Sports Forum, Salda left the playing area and slowly skated off to the bench shaking his foot. While Salda was getting checked out by the Lightning training staff, 3-on-3 dynamo Sammy Walker lifted a shot over the glove of trialist goalie Clint Windsor to put Team Esposito up 1-0 going into a brief, halftime break.
Salda, however, recovered quickly, returned for the second stanza and spearheaded Team St. Louis' 4-3 shootout victory.
Team St. Louis finished Friday a perfect 3-0 and will be the top-seeded team when action picks up Saturday for the final day of camp.
"I had big cramps in my right leg," Salda explained after the tournament. I was like, 'Oh crap.' A lot of guys were cramping today because we had a pretty tough gym session with (Lightning strength coach) Mark (Lambert) earlier."
Salda re-emerged from the locker room for the second stanza and immediately made an impact. After Otto Somppi buried a centering feed to tie the game 1-1, Salda dangled around a defenseman in the left circle and sniped a shot bar down to give Team St. Louis its first lead 2-1.
"They gave me some rehydrating fluid and some tablets, and I went back out there good as new," Salda said.
The teams ended regulation level 3-3 thanks to Somppi's game-tying backhander with :25 seconds remaining. In the ninth round of a deciding shootout, Salda, who had already been denied once earlier in the extra session, backhanded a shot through Windsor for the game-winner. Windsor had impressively stopped 16-straight shots before Salda found the back of the net.
Salda, a 6-foot, 185-pound defenseman taken by the Lightning in the seventh round of the 2018 NHL Draft and participating in his second development camp, ended the day with two goals and six points in three games, tied for second for scoring among the Lightning prospects competing.
"Last year, I didn't have the strength I have now," Salda said. "I'm stronger, bigger. I feel good."
Team St. Louis defeated Team Lecavalier 3-1 and Team Andreychuk 5-4 in a shootout earlier in the day to account for its three wins. Somppi netted three goals on seven shots and added four assists to lead all skaters for scoring in the competition with seven points.
Team Esposito scored a 1-0 win over Team Andreychuk and a 5-2 victory against Team Lecavalier to set up the final matchup between the two unbeaten squads. Team Esposito was led by Walker, who netted a tournament-high four goals and added a pair of assists.
Cole Koepke (Team Andreychuk) and McKade Webster (Team Esposito) each scored three goals and currently rank tied for second for goals in the tournament.
Among the goaltenders, Hugo Alnefelt had a spectacular outing in his lone appearance, stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced in the day's opening game for a sterling .967 save percentage.
Three-on-three action picks back up Saturday at 11:45 a.m. in the final day of development camp.