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Blair Jones makes big impression in Tampa Bay Lightning's victory

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Lightning C Blair Jones said he did not hear what Chicago's Nick Boynton yelled at him as he skated to the penalty box Wednesday night.

"Just some threats, I'm sure," Jones said.

As for the throat-slash Boynton appeared to make toward Jones, who dropped Boynton in a fight with a heavy left-hand punch, no worries.

"It's just intensity," Jones said. "It's not the first time someone has done that, and it won't be the last. It's a fight. You're pumped up, and emotions get the best of you."

There was lots to discuss about Tampa Bay's 4-2 preseason victory over the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in front of 14,092 at the MTS Center.

Simon Gagne, in his first game for Tampa Bay, had the winner and three points. Steven Stamkos and Winnipeg native Carter Ashton scored, and Cedrick Desjardins made 31 saves as the team went to 2-0.

But Jones' effort, including a goal and punchout while standing up for a teammate, was the talk of the locker room.

"He showed a lot of guts," coach Guy Boucher said. "I gave him the warrior of the game. He pretty much did everything. He fought. He went to defend one of our guys. He crashed the net. He scored. He backchecked. He did everything."

Not bad for someone trying to land a spot with the big club.

The fun began with 6:56 left in the second, when Boynton hit Chris Durno with what appeared to be a knee-to-knee check. Jones, who turns 24 on Monday, immediately attacked.

"It was more sticking up for a teammate than anything," Jones said. "It seemed like a questionable hit, so I just went in. It's what you're expected to do."

As Boynton, who got a game misconduct, went to the box, he yelled at Jones and appeared to do the throat-slash. Boynton did not speak to reporters after the game.

"Everybody saw it," said C Vinny Lecavalier, who mimicked Boynton's gesture to the referees to make sure they were aware. "He obviously wasn't happy with what happened. He's a very tough guy. He's been through a lot of fights and a lot of battles. Maybe he was just frustrated with what happened.

As for Jones, Lecavalier said, "I didn't know he could throw a left like that. He played unbelievable; a great game."

That he capped with his goal with 5:38 left off a rebound in front of the net.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy that went in," said Jones, who said he received a text message from a friend before the game exhorting him to be "noticed" on every shift.

"It was a good feeling for sure."

SMALL STEP: G Mike Smith said he has not ruled out playing Saturday at Calgary but admitted "that's maybe pushing it," and said playing one of the final two games, Oct. 1 and 2 against Florida, might be more reasonable.

Smith skated for the first time since a Stamkos shot during Monday's practice fractured the tip of his right ring finger. Smith still cannot grip a goalie stick but said he used a skater's stick to stop easy shots along the ice.

"The vibrations (when pucks hit the stick) are my main concern," he said.

Another Injury: D Matt Smaby, who left Tuesday's victory over the Stars in the first after he was buckled by a Brian Sutherby punch, said he hopes to skate today.

ODDS AND ENDS: LW Brett Connolly, drafted sixth overall in June, played his first NHL game. … Tonight's game against the Oilers will be on NHL Network at 2 a.m. Friday.

Lightning 1 1 2 4
Blackhawks 0 1 1 2

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 1 (Gagne, Lecavalier), 17:57. PenaltiesStamkos, TB (hooking), :53; Toews, Chi (holding stick), 8:09; Pisani, Chi (holding), 15:01.

Second Period2, Chicago, Sharp 1 (Bickell, Pisani), :49. 3, Tampa Bay, Ashton 1 (Hedman, Perrin), 17:33 (pp). PenaltiesStalberg, Chi (slashing), 5:39; Leddy, Chi (hooking), 8:16; Boynton, Chi, major-game misconduct (fighting), 13:04; B.Jones, TB, minor-major-misconduct (instigator, fighting), 13:04; Dowell, Chi, major (fighting), 15:08; Durno, TB, major (fighting), 15:08; Skille, Chi (high-sticking), 15:57; Toews, Chi (roughing), 18:55.

Third Period4, Tampa Bay, Gagne 1 (St. Louis), 1:03. 5, Chicago, Toews 1 (Morin, Makarov), 1:36. 6, Tampa Bay, B.Jones 1 (Gagne, Durno), 14:12. PenaltiesLecavalier, TB (hooking), 3:21; Morin, Chi (slashing), 4:02; Durno, TB (tripping), 9:18; Hedman, TB (delay of game), 15:59; B.Jones, TB (goaltender interference), 17:27. Shots on GoalChicago 10-5-18—33. Tampa Bay 10-10-9—29. Power-play opportunitiesChicago 0 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 7. GoaliesChicago, Turco (15 shots-14 saves), Toivonen 0-1-0 (13:33 second, 14-11). Tampa Bay, Desjardins 1-0-0 (33-31). A14,092 (15,015).

Lightning at Oilers

When/where: 9; Rexall Place, Edmonton

Radio: 1250-AM

The lowdown: The Lightning faced the Oilers last preseason and earned a 4-3 overtime victory. It is the only previous preseason meeting between the teams. … Tampa Bay has won its past eight preseason road games and is 11-2-2 in preseason games since 2008. … Edmonton played late Wednesday in Vancouver. … The Oilers feature LW Taylor Hall, the No. 1 overall draft pick in June's draft.

Blair Jones makes big impression in Tampa Bay Lightning's victory 09/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 23, 2010 7:39am]
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