ST. LOUIS — Tampa Bay remained perfect after three preseasons games by beating St. Louis 4-3 on Friday in front of an announced crowd of 13,246 at Scottrade Center. Brett Connolly, Artem Sergeev, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Ondrej Palat scored for the Lightning. Ben Bishop stopped 14 of 15 shots in 30:51 of action, while Anders Lindback allowed two goals on 15 shots.
Just 11 seconds into the game, a mini-melee broke out when David Backes cross-checked Nate Thompson, then came back for another shot that led to all 10 skaters on the ice squaring off and resulted in five penalties with Backes getting the extra minor.
Though the Lightning failed to convert that power-play chance, it took two seconds to score on their next man advantage when Valtteri Filppula won a faceoff back to the point to Sergeev, who wristed a shot past Jaroslav Halak at 7:31. Filppula had three assists.Alex Steen tied the score for the Blues, getting a half-stride ahead of Andrej Sustr before rooking a backhander at 15:25.
Connolly scored his third goal in two games to break the tie by cutting through the crease to tap in a pass from Filppula at 14:10 of the second period.Corey Locke tied the game beating Lindback to the top far post at 15:12, but Palat scored his second in as many nights at 15:59 to regain the lead for Tampa Bay.
Labrie banked in a shot off the back of Halak at 5:39 of the third period to make it 4-2 before T.J. Oshie cut St. Louis’ deficit to 4-3 with a rebound goal at 7:28.
“That’s a big strong team with a lot if their NHL regulars in the lineup and our guys found a way,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
RW Teddy Purcell missed Friday’s game after showing up to the morning skate not feeling well, Cooper said.
Purcell had been scheduled to appear in his second preseason game but was replaced by Connolly, who scored two goals in Thursday’s victory against Nashville.
Looking for a chance
RW Eric Nielson has fought his way — sometimes literally — for a chance to play in the NHL. Originally a fifth-round pick of Los Angeles in 2004, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound winger who is on an AHL-only contract, was in the lineup on Friday hoping to make the most of his opportunity.
“It’s an opportunity to show them what I can do. I’ve been in the organization for three years now and to get into a game at the NHL level, I need to show them what I can do,’’ Nielson said.
Nielson has appeared in 225 games in the AHL for four organizations, compiling 695 penalty minutes while bringing a physical presence to the ice and keeping the locker room loose.
The roster for tonight’s home preseason game against Florida was not determined until after Friday’s game. But all players who appeared in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday — Labrie, Palat, Sustr, Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik, Keith Aulie and Eric Brewer — are not eligible to play in three consecutive games.
RW Marty St. Louis, who did not appear in any of the first three games, is expected to make his preseason debut.
RW Adam Erne, the team’s second-round pick in 2013, was released from camp and will return to Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Erne appeared in one preseason game, scoring a pair of goals as well as registering the shootout winner on Wednesday in Orlando. Erne was also handed a three-game preseason suspension for a check to the head of St. Louis F Vlaidimir Sobotka.
Tampa Bay has 58 players remaining in camp heading into tonight’s game, which ends a run of four games in four nights. The next round of cuts are expected to take place following tonight’s game.
Nuts and Bolts
All three former St. Louis players — Brewer, Bishop and B.J. Crombeen — were on the ice for the opening puck drop. ? Brewer and Crombeen, along with Thompson, all wore an “A’’ serving as alternate captains. ? ... C Mike Angelidis will depart for Toronto today to be with his wife, who will deliver via C-section the couple’s first child, a daughter.