Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Center Point keeps impressing Lightning

RALEIGH, N.C. — C Brayden Point has been busy, the only Lightning skater to be in the lineup for each of the first three exhibition games.

The touted prospect scored in the first two, and he nearly had another goal in Friday's 2-1 overtime win against the Hurricanes.

"He deserves the look he's getting," associate coach Rick Bowness said.

Point, a third-round draft pick in 2014, appeared in two preseason games last season before heading back to his junior team (Moose Jaw). Though Point is entering his first full pro season with AHL Syracuse, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his hockey sense is "off the charts."

"Last year he impressed us, and he's a much better player this time around," Bowness said. "He's more confident, he's stronger, he's quicker. He's better in all facets of the game. He's a smart hockey player. Guys with his speed and skills and hockey sense … they're going to play (in the NHL). When is yet to be determined."

That doesn't mean Point is in contention to make the Lightning's opening-night roster; Tampa Bay has made it clear it won't rush him. But, Cooper said, "You can see he's going to be a player."

WIZ KID: D James Wisniewski on a training camp tryout, logged a team high in minutes in each of the first two exhibitions. But Wisniewski, 32, needed it, having missed last season with a torn ACL suffered in the Hurricanes' opener. And though Wisniewski has shown the passing ability and vision that have the Lightning thinking he could be a solution for its power play, he's playing catchup in other areas.

"You're rusty to begin with, and secondly, you're not familiar with the system," Bowness said. "His reads sometimes are just … it's based on rust and indecision on how we like to play. But for the most part, his positional play is good. He's where he's supposed to be. You've got to keep in the back of your mind he's missed a lot of time (and) he's coming off a very serious injury. You just have to be a little bit patient there."

Three exhibitions are left after Friday.

VASY DEBUT: G Andrei Vasilevskiy said he felt "sleepy" in the first two periods of Friday's exhibition debut, facing just 11 shots . But Vasilevskiy settled in for a sharp 27-save performance, giving up his only goal with 1:05 left in regulation and Carolina skating six on four. " 'Vasy' was outstanding," C Tyler Johnson said. "He was our MVP."

G Ben Bishop was expected to start tonight in Nashville.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Johnson scored and LW Ondrej Palat got the winner on a breakaway 1:38 into overtime. … Palat also had an assist. … Tampa Bay gave up its first power-play goal of the preseason. … Forty-four players made the weekend trip, with cuts coming before Syracuse opens camp Tuesday.

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