Halpern Gets Both Tampa Bay Goals
The Tampa Bay Lightning, behind two goals by forward Jeff Halpern and outstanding goaltending by Mike Smith, defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1, in Everett, Washington, tonight.
Tampa Bay goaltender Mike Smith and Phoenix Coyote netminder Ilya Bryzgalov treated the crowd to a display of mid-season quality goaltending as they both came up with big saves to keep the first period scoreless. Smith faced eight shots while the Lightning generated five on the Coyote net.
Smith was tested early when Coyote forward Mikkel Boedker and defenseman Jim Vandemeer had back-to-back shots just past the 2:00 mark of the period. Smith’s next big challenge came with only 50 seconds to play in period one as he stopped a point blank shot from the mid-slot by Phoenix forward Jeff Hoggan.
When Phoenix was called for their first infraction of the night, Adrian Aucoin for interference, the Lightning took advantage of the extra man opportunity as Jeff Halpern pounced on a rebound of a shot from Andrej Meszaros that James Wright also got a stick on. Halpern’s goal, at 2:32 of the period, gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 advantage.
Halpern widened the advantage to two scores for Tampa Bay when he connected at 5:28 for his second goal of the game, banging home a rebound while he was sprawled out on the ice. Wright was credited for an assist, his second of the game.
Phoenix forward Petr Prucha cut the Lightning lead in half when the puck deflected off his skate and passed Smith at 10:35 of the second stanza.
At the conclusion of the period, Phoenix had a wide lead in shots on net, 23 – 14, but the Bolts had the advantage on the scoreboard, 2-1.
Phoenix surged early in the final period, seeking the tying goal, but Smith continued his outstanding play in net, turning aside the Coyote scoring chances as time ticked down in the game.
With 7: 58 remaining Phoenix forward Scottie Upshall launched a wrist shot but Smith flashed his glove and snared the puck.
Smith continued his outstanding play, stoning Coyote defenseman Jim Vandemeer from point-blank range in front of the crease, with less than 2:00 left to play.
Halpern’s two goals turned out to be all that the Lightning, and Mike Smith, needed for the win, as Tampa Bay hung on to close out the Coyotes, 2-1.
These two teams will meet again tomorrow night in Loveland, Colorado, as Tampa Bay will look to sweep the two-game set from Phoenix.
Bolt Notes: Mike Smith finished with 32 saves on 33 shots…Andrej Meszaros played in his first pre-season game, notching an assist on Halpern’s first goal…Tampa Bay finished with 18 shots on net…the Lightning penalty kill unit continues to be successful, holding Phoenix off the board on three power play opportunities. Combined with last night’s game Tampa Bay has not been scored on in 11 consecutive shorthanded situations.
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