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Sunday, Apr 20, 2014
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Notebook: Connolly stars in victory

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TAMPA — Brett Connolly scored twice, Victor Hedman had a pair of assists and the Lightning won for the second consecutive night, defeating Nashville 5-1 in front of an announced crowd of 10,332 at The Forum.

Richard Panik, Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos also scored for Tampa Bay, which improved to 2-0 in the preseason. Riku Helenius stopped all 15 shots he faced in 30:43 of ice time, while Cedrick Desjardins stopped 16 of 17 shots.

Connolly, the sixth overall selection in the 2010 draft, made a strong impression in the competition for one of the open forward spots on the opening night roster.

“I thought our line played pretty well, and I was fortunate enough to have the puck come to me, and I’m happy with the way everything worked out,’’ Connolly said. “It’s nice to score, that’s what they drafted me to do is create offense, and it’s always nice to see the puck go in.’’

It was the kind of performance the coaching staff wants to see out of Connolly, who also had two goals in the two intrasquad scrimmages this week.

“I saw two goal-scorer’s goals,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And we saw a lot of that in the second half of last year (in the American Hockey League), and he’s doing it in camp, and been doing well.’’

Erne suspended

Tampa Bay Lightning F Adam Erne was dealt a three-game preseason suspension on Thursday following an incident against St. Louis on Wednesday.

Erne, the team’s second-round pick in the 2013 draft, delivered a shoulder check to the head of Blues F Vladimir Sobotka that knocked the St. Louis player out of the game. Sobotka showed no effects from the hit and is expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The incident occurred at 6:54 of the first period and resulted in a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head. It was reviewed by the league on Thursday.

“As (Sobotka) backhands the puck in the direction of Erne, the Tampa player cuts across the ice and delivers a shoulder check that makes Sobotka’s head the main point of contact,’’ NHL Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan said in a video announcing the suspension. “Despite the fact that Sobotka lowered his head and turned in a way that makes him vulnerable, Erne must do a better job of hitting more squarely through the body and not picking his opponent’s head.’’

Erne went on to score two goals and picked up the shootout winner as Tampa Bay rallied to win the preseason opener 4-3 at Amway Center in Orlando in Erne’s first NHL game. He said after the game he did not intend to hit Sobotka in the head.

“I apologize, it was not intentional,’’ Erne said. “I was just trying to hit him. I kept my shoulder down and just happened to get him on the side of the head. It was my fault, but I did not intend to.’’

Game group

Tampa Bay’s scheduled roster for Friday’s game will include:

Forwards: Mike Angelidis, B.J. Crombeen, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Eric Nielson, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson, Dana Tyrell.

Defense: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Eric Brewer, Dmitry Korobov, Artem Sergeev, Slater Koekkoek, Andrej Sustr.

Goaltenders: Ben Bishop, Anders Lindback.

Reading program

The Lightning and Marty St. Louis launched a Score with Reading program designed for first-grade students that begins Sept. 30 and runs through Nov. 8.

Students who read 20 minutes per day for 20 days by the end of the two-month program will earn a free Lightning ticket voucher and a sticker. Students who read 20 minutes a day for 40 days by the end of the program will also earn a second free ticket voucher to a select Lightning home game.

All teachers who register and participate in the program will receive two Lightning ticket vouchers for a Lightning game. Following program completion, a select number of teachers will also receive $250 gift cards to Lakeshore Learning to enhance their classroom materials.

Teachers are encouraged to sign their classroom up by Sept. 24 on the Score With Reading web page at www.tampabaylightning.com/ScoreWithReading.

Nuts and Bolts

Ryan Malone, Stamkos and Hedman wore the “A’’ as alternate captains. ... The Lightning will practice in Brandon today, with three sessions starting at 10 a.m. ... LW Henri Ikonen showed no effects from a blow to the head in Wednesday’s game and skated with the team on Thursday.

Erik Erlendsson

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