With the Tampa Bay Lightning’s preseason coming to an end tonight, they have some tough decisions to make. Mathieu Joseph and Alexander Volkov both performed well throughout the preseason, cementing themselves as true contenders for the few roster spots the Lightning have available.
At this point, it’s hard to come up with a reason why Joseph won’t be playing in Amalie Arena next Saturday. His game-tying goal in the third period set the tone for the remainder of the game. He has consistently out-performed everyone else on the ice. Joseph’s speed is a perfect fit, as he regularly beat the Panthers to the puck, setting up chances in the offensive zone. His speed and skating ability allow him to be in the right position to make plays and find the back of the net.
A victory in the preseason finale.
The Panther’s scored first when Jonathan Huberdeau beat Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the Lightning responded only a minute later with a goal of their own. Cory Conacher found the back of the net after receiving an assist from Danick Martel. After some back-and-forth hockey and some incredibly close calls, the period ended tied up 1-1.
The second period saw the game’s first power play awarded to the Panthers after Victor Hedman was called for hooking, likely saving a goal. However, his effort turned out to be in vain. Less than thirty seconds into the power play, the Panthers converted on a Mike Hoffman one-timer. Despite failing to score in the second period, the Lightning earned an incredible chance from Ondrej Palat. Palat found himself with the puck and Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo on the ice. Unfortunately for him, he sent the puck right into the glove hand of Luongo who was on his back while making the save.
The third period began with the Lightning trailing by one, but six minutes into the third, Joseph made the play the Lightning needed. Joseph took advantage of some sloppy play from the Panthers in the neutral zone and forced a turnover. Taking the puck between two defenders,, Joseph got through cleanly and finished it of by beating Luongo for an unassisted goal. The Lightning would go on to score the game-winner when J.T Miller redirected a slap shop from Mikhail Sergachev. The Bolts then managed to outlast the Panthers’ last ditch efforts after pulling Luongo and putting six forwards on the ice. Volkov, another player fighting for a roster spot, jumped on a loose puck and put it in for an empty net goal with less than one second left, making it a 4-2 final in favor of Tampa Bay.
Over the next couple of days, we should see what decisions the Lightning will make in regards to their opening night roster. Adam Erne did not play tonight, and it may be because his roster spot was already solidified with solid performances in earlier preseason games. If that spot is already considered his, then the last roster spot is most likely going to either Joseph or Volkov. This is of course assuming the Lightning plan on sticking with Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan when he comes back from injury.
Erik Cernak had a solid showing this preseason on the back end, but the team seems set on moving forward with their seasoned veterans on the blue line. Cernak is definitely a name to keep an eye out on during the season in case of injury.
-Mikhail Sergachev skated off the ice after blocking a puck but later re-entered the game and seemed fine.
-The Lightning failed to convert on their only power play of the night, while the Panthers went 1-for-2.
-Conacher’s goal and Martel’s assist was each player’s first point of the preseason.
-Vasilevskiy finished with 27 saves on 28 shots against, while Luongo stopped 20 of the 23 shots on goal he faced.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Mathieu Joseph
2nd Star: J.T. Miller
3rd Star: Mikhail Sergachev
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