Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Lightning's Lecavalier, a small step

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — When Vinny Lecavalier reminisces about his career, the goal he scored Tuesday will not immediately spring to mind.

The shot might have gone high had it not clipped an opponent's stick. And it came during a game that, while exciting, was more notable because it was the last of the preseason.

But in the context of the past five-plus months of injury and rehabilitation, the third-period, tying goal, and the shootout goal that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 victory over HC Slovan in front of 8,000 at sold-out, pulsating Samsung Arena, will have its place.

"It's nice that the puck went in," Lecavalier said. "It really builds some confidence."

And perhaps some momentum. As goaltender Mike Smith said, "He's going to get better and better from now on."

It probably is unfair that every step Lecavalier takes, good and bad, is picked at and analyzed. But it comes with the territory as one of the world's highest profile players, a captain and holder of a new 11-year, $85-million contract extension.

He also was playing in just his second game since April surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

So when the Lightning's all-time leader in goals and points scored on the power play with 6:26 left in the third period to tie the score at 2, then made what coach Barry Melrose called a "beautiful move" to score backhanded along the ice in the shootout Tampa Bay won 2-1, a bit of equilibrium seemed restored.

"The shoulder felt really good on the ice," Lecavalier said. "I got hit a lot more tonight," than in his first game Sunday in Berlin.

"Tonight was a great test," he added. "It was kind of a perfect progression. The last game wasn't physical at all. This game was more physical, a better game, a tighter game. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."

The Lightning (5-1) seemed ready in many ways.

Smith was solid in goal. Lecavalier's wings Marty St. Louis and Vinny Prospal skated well. Evgeny Artyukhin scored after a half-rink rush, though the puck was inadvertently knocked in by a Slovan player, and Jussi Jokinen scored the first shootout goal.

But there also were kinks.

Tampa Bay had trouble finishing and hit three crossbars and a post. The team lost focus in the second period and took a series of frustration penalties that kept it on the penalty kill most of the time.

"Bad penalties," coach Barry Melrose said. "I think we had $40-million (in salaries) on the bench in the second period."

And though its puck movement was better, the power play was 1-for-7 to finish the preseason 3-for-33.

Lecavalier, too, fought the puck at times, once smacking his stick to the ice after the puck rolled off his blade.

"It's frustrating when it happens. It's like a spasm," he said. "It comes off your stick and you're like, 'Why is this happening?' But I'm not thinking it's because of the shoulder. It's because it's my first games."

"The good thing is, Vinny got another game under his belt," Melrose said. "He was better in this game than the last one, and I played the (heck) out of him in the third period. He did a lot of skating, and that's good."

Good for a second game, anyway.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

For Lightning's Lecavalier, a small step 09/30/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 2:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston held his pro day at Florida State's indoor practice facility. His pro team will be getting one soon.
  2. Rays series preview: Who are the Pirates?

    Blogs

    After an off day Monday, the Rays head on the road to PNC Park for a three-game interleague series against the Pirates. Here's the information you need to know about Pittsburgh before the action kicks off.

    Record: 35-41, fourth in NL Central

    Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, left, has rebounded from a rough start, while fellow outfielder Gregory Polanco, right, has fallen off recently.
  3. Countryside alum A.J. Andrews lands in ESPN's annual body issue (w/video)

    Softballpreps

    A.J. Andrews has taken over the spotlight in softball. Last year, the former Countryside High and LSU standout became the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year existence.

    Former Countryside and LSU softball standout A.J. Andrews will be among 23 athletes to be featured in ESPN The Magazine's body issue. "I have a really ripped back," Andrews says while laughing in the video. [Photo from video]

  4. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  5. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport