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Blues (1-0-0) at Lightning (0-1-0)
Preseason Series: Following last night’s preseason opener for both teams, the clubs will square off again in Orlando this evening for the second time in as many nights, as St. Louis carries a 1-0 preseason series edge into the Amway Center against the Lightning.
The Big Story: Tonight’s game at the Amway Center marks the fifth time in Lightning franchise exhibition history that the team will contest an opponent in Orlando. Tampa Bay has had success there previously, as it has never lost a preseason game in the neighboring city along the I-4 corridor, to where it brings with it a record that includes three wins, no losses and one tie.
LIGHTNING – The Lightning departed St. Louis last night following a 3-1 loss to the Blues at the Scottrade Center and arrived in Tampa after midnight. Following a light morning skate in Brandon this morning, the team will take a charter bus to the Amway Center this afternoon in preparation for tonight’s game. The club played without the majority of its regular players last night, but one familiar face, Steve Downie, got on the score sheet with the Bolts’ only goal in the second period. Mathieu Garon made his Lightning debut, stopping eight shots on nine attempts. Prospect Jaroslav Janus eventually took over in net for the Lightning halfway throughout the game and eventually earned the loss after allowing one goal on 18 shots.
BLUES – St. Louis is coming off an impressive season from a year ago, in which it posted 38 wins and 87 points. Despite the club placing 11th in the Western Conference at the conclusion of the 2010-11 regular season, the team is expected to improve again this season as it has its sights set on making the postseason. It got off on the right foot last night, opening its exhibition campaign with a 3-1 win over the Lightning, despite providing its opponent with eight power-play chances throughout the night. Evgeny Grachev scored two goals for the Blues, including one on the power play and another into an empty net, while Matt D’Agostini scored the eventual game-winner late in the second period. Brian Elliott also earned his first win in a St. Louis jersey, stopping 21 of 22 shots.
Who To Watch For: Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher has stood out in camp the past few days and although scrappy, is an excellent skater and has looked impressive to head coach Guy Boucher. Conacher will be rewarded for his hard work in tonight’s game, as he is expected to play on the same line alongside Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Scott Jackson (offseason knee surgery, out indefinitely), Charles Landry (upper body, day-to-day) and Dustin Tokarski (mid body, day-to-day). BLUES – None reported.
Notable Quotable: “All of our guys have aspirations of playing in the NHL and they’re all highly motivated. They’ll definitely help our team whether as members of the big club or in improving our organizational depth.” – General Manager Steve Yzerman, on his observations of his players through the first game of the preseason.