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Simon Gagne showed exactly why he was Steve Yzerman’s most prized acquisition of the summer’s offseason.
The Lightning forward, acquired over the summer in a trade, led all scorers with a goal and three points in his Lightning debut as he helped the team to its second consecutive preseason victory in as many nights, a 4-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
The win marked the first time since 1998 that the Lightning won two straight to open the exhibition season. As a result of the victory, Guy Boucher became the first Lightning coach in franchise history to win his first two preseason games in his rookie season behind the bench.
Stamkos finally capitalized shortly following the misfortune, lighting the scoreboard after Blackhawks goaltender Marty Turco mishandled the puck in front of the net.
Sharp evened things up just 49 seconds into the second period when he roofed a shot above Lightning net minder Cedrick Desjardins.
Both Desjardins and Turco dueled for most of the second period, as each made a series of spectacular saves to keep the score knotted at one. Turco was relieved in favor of backup Hannu Toivonen midway through the second period after making 14 saves on 15 shots.
Desjardins, making both his NHL and Lightning debut, earned the win by stopping 31 of 33 shots. The Bolts net minder also received help from his defense, especially late in the game as the Lightning killed off a 6-on-3 Chicago power play. As a unit, Tampa Bay went 5-for-5 on the night against Chicago’s man advantage.
Tampa Bay went back up in front with 2:27 remaining in the middle frame, as Ashton crashed the net to put in a Victor Hedman rebound that made it 2-1. The Lightning winger scored with the man advantage after stuffing a second attempt past Toivonen, despite the goaltender initially stopping the young forward on the initial rebound attempt.
The Lightning failed to capitalize on a power play opportunity to open the third, but the missed chance had little effect on the team’s effort. Seconds after the man advantage expired, Martin St. Louis kept the puck in the attacking zone and fed to Gagne who made it 3-1. The goal marked Gagne’s first as a member of the Lightning.
Toews countered by wristing one past Desjardins, cutting the deficit to one with 18 minutes remaining in regulation.
Jones doubled the lead with approximately six minutes remaining, poking the puck into the top of the net from a tough angle at 14:12 to cap the scoring and seal the win.
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