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Lightning lose 6-3 to Panthers in prospect tournament

The Lightning lost 6-3 to the Panthers Tuesday in the finale of the prospect tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

Rookie forward Michael Aviani, a camp invitee, scored his second goal of the three-game tourney. Defenseman Slater Koekkoek and Cameron Maclise also had goals for Tampa Bay, with forward Adam Erne seeing his first game action since offseason wrist surgery.

"It’s been a while since I have played a game, so I definitely had to get my legs underneath me, Erne said. "It felt good after a little bit. It was a tough game but Florida is a good team and we just didn’t
execute."

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 36 of 41 shots. The Lightning finished 1-1-1 in the tournament, outshot 42-27 Tuesday. The Lightning gave up four straight goals to break a 1-1 tie.

"We were talking in the dressing room about wanting to keep the momentum from the first two games but it seemed like Florida came and took it from the start and definitely finished it," Aviani said.

The Lightning prospects will have Wednesday off before resuming skating Thursday, when training camp opens at Amalie Arena.

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Video: Steven Stamkos converts from 91 yards

Steven Stamkos

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Steven Stamkos

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has scored many goals with his rocket one-timer. And in a promotional clip for Bauer, Stamkos' slap shot was put to an interesting test, challenging him to shoot a puck off a plastic mat through the uprights from several distances on a football field. How far was his longest "field goal?" Check it out.

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Lightning beat Bruins 3-2 in overtime of prospect tournament

Defenseman Kodie Curran is definitely not one of the more high-profile prospects for the Lightning in this weekend's tournament in Nashville.

But Curran, 24, an invitee to camp, came up big Sunday night, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Bruins 3-2 in the second game of the prospects tournament.

“It was definitely one of the cooler experiences of my life,” said Curran, who spent the last four seasons at the University of Calgary. "It was fast-paced though, definitely a step quicker than college hockey, and being fortunate to be playing with such good players. I got a great pass from (Jonathan) Drouin there and I was able to capitalize."

Forwards Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point each picked up the assist on the game-winner. Nikita Nesterov and Michael Aviani also scored for Tampa Bay, with goalie Kristers Gudlevskis stopping 23 of 25 shots.

But Curran was the unsung star for the Lightning, which lost to the Predators in overtime Saturday and will wrap up the three-game tournament Tuesday against the Panthers. …

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Former Lightning wing Ryan Malone signs with Rangers

Former Lightning wing Ryan Malone got the second chance he was looking for Thursday, signing a one-year, two-way deal with the Rangers. His NHL salary is $700,000, his AHL salary $100,000.

"I am willing to do whatever it takes," Malone said. "This is a great team."

Malone, 34, was bought out by Tampa Bay in June, his season effectively ending after his April arrest in Tampa on charges of DUI and cocaine possession. He pleaded no contest to the DUI charge last month and will enter a pretrial diversion program to settle the drug charge.

Malone joined informal workouts with the Rangers on Monday, publicly aplogizing to the Lightning organization and hoping to get another chance. The two-way deal gives the Rangers roster flexibility, and Malone seemed comfortable with a New York club that includes several forrmer teammates.

"I am looking for an opportunity to show the kind of person I am both on and off the ice," Malone told reporters in New York Monday. I am healthy and in good shape; and everything off ice is going well. I learned from my mistake off the ice and now just want to be part of something special."

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NHL rule changes include no more spin-o-rama

The NHL announced several new rule changes for this upcoming season, including outlawing the spin-o-rama move for shootouts and penalty shots.

Other changes, per the league:

*The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides
of the net.

*A new Game Misconduct category will be created. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending move from the general category into the same category as boarding and checking from behind (“Physical Fouls”), whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in this category would now be automatically suspended for one game. …

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Lightning Fan Fest set for Sept. 27

Lightning announced Wednesday that its Fan Fest will be held Sept. 27 at Amalie Arena.

The event, which begins at 10 a.m. and is free to the public, will include the opportunity to watch scrimmages from noon until 12:45 p.m. Half the Lightning players will sign autographs for 45 minutes on the concourse at 1:15 p.m. and other half from 2-2:45 p.m.

Fans can also have a chance to receive discounted prices on food and beverages from concession stands inside Amalie Arena. The Lightning Kids Zone will be available for young fans.

Fans can park at Lightning-owned lots for discounted rate of $5 and enter through grand entrance on Ford Thunder Alley.

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Prospect Adam Erne not yet cleared for contact

Lightning forward prospect Adam Erne arrived Tuesday and participated in the informal skate/scrimmage with his teammates.

But Erne, who had left wrist surgery in early July, said he still hasn't been cleared for contact, and is unsure of his status heading into this weekend's prospect tournament.

"I honestly have no clue," Erne said.

Erne said he hopes to find out more on Thursday, when the rookies are scheduled to report and take their physicals. But Erne has been encouraged how rehab has gone with the wrist, an injury that bothered him last season with the Quebec Remparts.

"It feels pretty good out there, I haven't tried to push it too much," Erne said. "But it's better than it was before."

Erne had 62 points (21 goals) in 48 games for the Remparts last season, when he said the wrist injury lingered. So he hasn't tested it too much, pointing out he hasn't taken many slap shots. But Erne expects to be ready for the season.

"I've learned my lesson," he said. "I'd rather just let it heal."

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Drouin: "I want to be on this club"

For Jonathan Drouin, he says one year makes a really big difference.

You can see it in his build, the 19-year-old rookie wing arriving in tremendous shape, a product of his six-days-a-week summer workouts in Montreal.

You can see it on the ice, with Drouin dazzling during Tuesday’s 4-on-4 scrimmage at the Lightning’s informal workouts, beating veteran goaltender Evgeni Nabokov on a breakaway goal.

Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013 and the league’s top-ranked prospect according to NHL.com, was motivated over the disappointment of getting sent back to juniors after last year’s training camp. How he fares this month could go a long way in determining if he’s here for keeps.

“Last year didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but this year is a different story,” Drouin said. “I want to be on this club. I’m a step closer than I was last year. I’m way more tested, I’ve got to push hard. It’s going to be a month full of work.” …

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Goalie Leland Irving gets invite to training camp

The Lightning is already loaded at the goaltender position, but will have another one in training camp, as former first-round pick Leland Irving is coming on a tryout invite, according to general manager Steve Yzerman.

Irving, the 26th overall pick by Calgary in 2006, will join the rest of the team when it reports to Amalie Arena when camp opens Sept. 18.

Irving, 26, played last season with Jokerit in the Finnish Elite league, going 23-18-12 with a 2.14 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 55 games. He played in 13 games with Calgary with a 3-4-4 record and 3.25 G.A.A..

Irving will be the sixth goaltender in Tampa Bay's camp, including starter Ben Bishop, backup Evgeni Nabokov, as well as Andrei Vasilevskiy, Kristers Gudlevskis and Allen York, who is on an AHL deal with Syracuse.

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Malone skates with Rangers, publicly aplogizes to Lightning

Ryan Malone, bought out by Tampa Bay in June, joined the Rangers in their informal workouts today, with plans for contract talks to begin this week.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ryan Malone, bought out by Tampa Bay in June, joined the Rangers in their informal workouts today, with plans for contract talks to begin this week.

It looks like former Lightning wing Ryan Malone may get a second chance.

Malone, 34, bought out by Tampa Bay in June, joined the Rangers in their informal workouts today, with plans for contract talks to begin this week.

Last month, Malone pleaded no contest to DUI charges and agreed to a pretrial diversion program on a drug charge. He had been arrested in April in Tampa after striking a curb while driving; his blood alcohol level was later tested as .112, and cops found 1.3 grams of cocaine in Malone's pocket. The felony charge of cocaine possession will be dismissed if Malone successfully completes the program

Malone, who was placed in Stage Two of the NHL/NHLPA's Substance Abuse/Behavioral Health program, told the New York media Monday he was "reinstated" by doctors to play a couple days ago. He also took the time to publicly apologize to the Tampa Bay Lightning and its fans. …

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Bishop expects to be ready for season

Ben Bishop said his wrist is progressing well, and while it likely won't be 100-percent by the time training camp starts Sept. 18, he expects he'll be ready for the season.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ben Bishop said his wrist is progressing well, and while it likely won't be 100-percent by the time training camp starts Sept. 18, he expects he'll be ready for the season.

There wasn't room for much fun this summer for Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who has been rehabbing from April right wrist surgery.

"I played two rounds of (golf) a couple weeks ago and it was probably my best day of the summer," Bishop said. "Other than that, it's been pretty unevenful."

But the work has paid off, as Bishop, 27, said his wrist is progressing well, and while it likely won't be 100-percent by the time training camp starts Sept. 18, he expects he'll be ready for the season.

"It needs a little bit more work," Bishop said. "But it's getting there."

Bishop participated in the Lightning's informal skate Monday in Brandon, going through an hour and a half workout. He's faced shots for about three weeks, and said his range of motion is almost back, he just needs to strengthen it.

Bishop, who had torn a ligament in his wrist in January, has been using a pad over his blocker, but plans to slowly start phasing it out. He doesn't anticipate being restricted during camp or exhibition games, though said that's up to the doctors.

"It gets better every day, every time it gets stronger," Bishop said. "It's more the impact of the shot right now. I'm not too worried about it." …

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Stamkos: "I definitely want to win here"

Even Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had to laugh.

It didn’t take long during Stamkos’ first meeting with the local media Thursday for the Tweet That Took Over Toronto to get brought up.

“I didn’t think I’d have to answer those questions down here,” Stamkos said, smiling.

Stamkos, 24, spends his summers in his hometown near Toronto, so he’s used to stories getting “blown out of proportion.” But when Stamkos accidentally favorited a couple tweets/stories this summer that referred to him possibly returning to play for the Maple Leafs when he becomes a free agent in two years, it created a stir.

“That was the power of social media right there,” Stamkos said. “You talk about a pocket dial, that was a pocket tweet. It actually happened twice and it looked terrible. But when you... press the favorite button by accident, an hour later, Twitter was blowing up.”

Stamkos, drafted No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in 2008 and now the face of the franchise, made it clear he’s very happy where he is. …

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Drouin, Vasilevskiy highlight Lightning prospect camp roster

The Lightning announced its roster for the upcoming rookie camp and prospect tournament, and there are several big names on the list.

Forward Jonathan Drouin, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and first-round pick Anthony DeAngelo will be among the 24 players that will compete in Antioch, Tennessee from Sept. 13-16. The participants will report to camp Sept. 11 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum for testing and physicals before leaving and facing the Panthers, Predators and Bruins.

The Lightning’s roster includes 24 players, featuring 13 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders.  Included are six of the Lightning’s seven draft picks from 2014. Other touted prospects include forwards Adam Erne and Cody Kunyk, defensemen Dylan Blujus, Slater Koekkoek and Dominik Masin, as well as goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis.  Of those players on the roster forwards Cody Kunyk and Cedric Paquette, as well as goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, saw game action with the Lightning last season.

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All Lightning games will be televised

All of the Tampa Bay Lightning regular-season games will be televised this season.

Sun Sports announced Tuesday that it will show 77 of the Lightning's games, including the opener Oct. 9 against the Panthers, which will feature a special one-hour edition of the pre-game show. The NBC Sports Network will televise the other five Lightning games.

For Sun Sports, play-by-play announcers Rick Peckham returns, as will Bobby “The Chief” Taylor as color analyst. Lightning LIVE host Paul Kennedy will be joined throughout the year by Chris Dingman and Dave Andreychuk as color analysts during pregame, postgame and intermissions. Kelly Nash also returns as in-game reporter and “Inside the Lightning” host. …

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Namestnikov enjoys NHLPA Rookie Showcase

Lightning center prospect Vladislav Namestnikov wasn't much of a card collector growing up, but he did manage to keep every single one he could find with his uncle, former Red Wings forward Slava Kozlov, on the front.

Over the weekend, Namestnikov got to pose for a card of his own, made by Upper Deck, during the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto.

"It's pretty neat," he said.

Namestnikov, 21, joined 32 other prospects, including Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, at the event, which also included photo shoots, autograph signings and a group scrimmage at the site of the old Maple Leaf Gardens. The group visited the NHL Hall of Fame, even competed in an EA Sports NHL 15 video game tournament.

"It's nice to get invited to an event like this," Namestnikov said. "An honor."

Namestnikov is coming off a strong season for AHL Syracuse (19 goals, 29 points), with his highlight a four-game call-up in the NHL, including a debut against the Red Wings. "Something special," he said.

Namestnikov felt he took a step last season, and is eager to show his improvements in training camp next month. …

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