Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Erne big in Lightning preseason win

ORLANDO — Prospect Adam Erne made a great impression on his Lightning teammates in his first NHL game. The left wing also might have made some enemies among the Blues.

Erne, 18, drafted 33rd overall in June, scored two goals and had the shootout clincher as Tampa Bay overcame a three-goal second-period deficit to earn a 4-3 win in its preseason opener Tuesday at the Amway Center.

But Erne's head shot that knocked Blues F Vladimir Sobotka out of the game early in the first period apparently won't be soon forgotten, especially if Erne plays Friday in St. Louis.

"It's an 18-year-old kid," Blues F Chris Stewart told reporters. "I don't know how it's going to look when one of our heavies goes out there and tries to attack him."

Erne apologized for the hit — which earned him a two-minute penalty and certainly will be reviewed by the league — saying it was "unintentional" and he caught Sobotka with his shoulder, not his elbow.

"I was facing one way, and I turned the other way, and he was just kind of right there," Erne said. "I wanted to hit him. I just didn't think I was going to hit his head. It was a total accident. It was my fault. I apologize."

There were no apologies about what came after. Erne scored power-play goals with 1:14 left in the second and 1:31 into the third to make the score 3-2. Tom Pyatt's wrist shot after a mad dash down the left wing 9:11 into the third tied the score. C Valtteri Filppula and Erne scored in a 2-0 shootout win; Kristers Gudlevskis made two saves.

"Good for him," coach Jon Cooper said of Erne. "He played with a ton of confidence." Especially on his second goal. Alone in front, he called for the puck from C Cedric Paquette, waited for G Brian Elliott to make a move and shot into the open space.

"I knew there was nobody behind me, so I had a little more time to think about what I wanted to do," Erne said. "I knew if I was going to beat (Elliott), I had to catch him the wrong way."

As for his hit on Sobotka, Erne said it was "not an ideal start," but he had to put it behind him.

"He was drafted high for a reason," Cooper said. "The fact that he has stick skills and sees the ice well, that's all well and good. But he has a little bite to him, and (not getting rattled by the hit) showed it. To come back and score and get the shootout winner is a tribute to him."

IKONEN OUT: LW Henri Ikonen left the game in the third on wobbly legs after a hit into the boards by D Jordan Leopold. He will be evaluated today. Cooper indicated he is likely okay and said the hit was not dirty. Ikonen lost an edge and was falling as he was hit.

GAME ACTION: G Cedrick Desjardin stopped 12 of 14 shots. Gudlevskis stopped 13 of 14. … Tampa Bay was being outshot 14-2 early in the second but ended trailing 28-27. … Filppula did not get a shot on goal but impressed nonetheless. "I don't think I had a grasp or near the respect for his skating and puck protection as I did when I watched him (Wednesday)," Cooper said. "He's a good hockey player."

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