TAMPA, Fl. – It was a different team and a different story as the Tampa Bay Lightning offense methodically worked the Nashville Predators to a 4-0 deficit en route to a 5-1 win Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Steven Stamkos and Connolly would find the back of the net again in the second to extend the lead to 4-0. Nashville forward Matt Cullen managed to break up the Lightning bid for a shutout after more than 40 minutes of play with the lone Predators goal.
Richard Panik finished the scoring when he capitalized on a third-period Tampa Bay power-play opportunity to regain the Bolts four-goal lead.
Making an offensive statement sooner rather than later in tonight's game, Connolly skated down the slot toward netminder Carter Hutton and managed to backhand a shot over his right shoulder and into the net for the first tally of the game at 5:41 of the opening period. Victor Hedman and Stamkos were credited with the helpers on the play.
"The puck bounced and I was fortunate to get the puck under me on the first one and the second one too," Connolly said.
"Connolly had a couple nice goals and it was nice to see him get on the board," Stamkos added. "He's playing with some confidence. We saw him score a couple goals in the scrimmage, now he has two tonight. He's a guy we expect a lot from. He's really proven himself over the last couple years. He played in the minors last year and built his way back up and it's nice to see him get rewarded."
Less than two minutes after Connolly's initial goal, the Lightning quickly doubled the score to 2-0 after Palat carried the puck down the left side of the offensive zone and deked out Hutton and slipped the puck behind him stickside.
In the second frame, prospect Luke Witkowski dished the puck to the right corner for Ryan Malone, who quickly passed the puck to Stamkos. Positioned perfectly in front of the net, Stamkos completed the play and increased the Lightning's lead by three.
Again, Connolly came into play with under two minutes remaining in the second as he secured his second goal of the game going five-hole on Hutton from the right faceoff circle.
Nashville broke the shutout bid early in the third when Cullen caught a bad pass from netminder Desjardins, who was attempting to clear the puck behind the net. Instead, Cullen intercepted the puck and banked the shorthanded goal in the empty net with Desjardins out of position.
UP NEXT: The Lightning will play their third game in as many nights tomorrow as they head to St. Louis to play the Blues for the second time this preseason. The game is slated for 8:00 p.m. at Scottrade Center.
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