Connolly Shines, But Tampa Bay Falls in Traverse City Opener
Brett Connolly scored twice, but his Tampa Bay Lightning were defeated by the St. Louis Blues 4-2 in their first game of the Traverse City NHL Prospect Tournament on Saturday night at the Center Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan.
The Lightning struck first just 4:13 into the game on a quick-developing two-on-one. Carter Ashton carried the puck into the attacking zone along the right wing and dished it across the slot to Connolly. Tampa’s first round draft pick from this summer’s draft deked a forehand shot before dragging a backhander around the right leg of Blues goaltender Jake Allen.
St. Louis tied it at 1-1 less than five minutes later. The Blues fed the puck from behind the net into the slot. After a goalmouth scramble, Brett Sonne found the puck and sent a rebound past Tampa Bay goaltender Dustin Tokarski at 9:04.
The Blues took a 2-1 lead just 56 seconds into the second period. Anthony Peluso entered the Lightning zone on a two-on-one and faked a pass before sending a wrist shot into the net from the right circle.
The Lightning had a five-on-three power play for 1:35 in the middle of the second period but were unable to convert after several key saves by Allen.
St. Louis then doubled its lead late in the second stanza on Sonne’s second goal of the game. After Stefan Della Rovere’s initial shot from the right circle was denied by Tokarski, Sonne found the rebound and quickly stashed it past the netminder at 18:43 for a 3-1 lead.
Tampa Bay drew to within a goal of tying the game with Connolly’s second goal early in the final frame. Connolly re-directed a James Wright feed from the left circle past Allen at 2:41.
However, the Blues re-claimed their two-goal lead with just 2:24 remaining as Tyler Shattock’s shot from the right ring found its mark.
Shots on goal favored St. Louis 35-26 in the game.
Tampa Bay will face off against the Detroit Red Wings in their second game of the Traverse City NHL Prospect Tournament tomorrow at 6:00. Stay tuned to tampabaylightning.com and twitter.com/TBLightning for the latest.