|2-2-0 (4 points)||1-3-0 (2 points)|
For the second consecutive night, the Lightning put on an impressive offensive display. Although the Lightning iced a far-from-hapless squad on Saturday night, given the fact it was missing the star firepower of Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis and the defensive acumen of Eric Brewer, there is significant satisfaction in defeating what, essentially, will be the Panthers opening-night roster.
After jumping out to a a 1-0 lead thanks to an early power-play tally from Pavel Kubina in the 1st period, by several minutes into the second period, the Lightning were behind 3-1 after the Panthers came roaring back with 3 consecutive even-strength goals. Brett Connolly made it a 1-goal game on another Lightning power-play about midway through the 2nd period but the Lightning completed the comeback during an impressive 3rd period during which Tom Pyatt, Mattias Ritola and Teddy Purcell buried 3 of the 12 shots the Lightning managed while holding Florida to just 5.
Ritola and Connolly both added to their impressive training camp and preseason body of work. Pete over at BoltProspects is adamant that Ritola sealed the deal for a roster spot with last night’s performance and, well, I’m inclined to agree. There is simply no justification that I can think of for not penciling him in for the opening-night roster, especially when you factor in the terms of his contract.
Barring a disappointing finish, Connolly probably deserves to have his fate for the 2011-2012 season postponed until after he has enjoyed all of the perks (pay, travel, etc.) that come with a 9-game stint with the big club. I do still think Connolly ends up returned to Prince George one way or the other, but the kid is certainly making the decision a difficult one for Lightning brass.
New Bolt Ryan Shannon continues to shine as he added 2 primary assists last night on top of the 2 goals he scored against Florida on Friday night. It will be interesting to see where he slots in once the regular season begins because his versatility makes it hard to prognosticate. It seems likely he’ll see time in the top-6 given his offensive prowess but if the preseason ice-time is any indication, the organization prizes his defensive instincts. I suspect, as does Pete, that the Lightning has this year’s version of Sean Bergenheim in the fold.
Tonight’s game in Sunrise will complete the second of consecutive home-and-home series and so makes the 4th game in 5 nights for the Bolts, although there are still enough players in camp to mitigate or even eliminate any concerns over fatigue.
With a significant round of cuts to the Lightning’s training camp roster nearing, the odds should be stacked against what will probably be a young Lightning lineup of prospects and vets on the bubble as Florida will almost surely be icing a squad approximate to who will be playing come opening night.