TAMPA — The Lightning's youngsters are making final roster decisions difficult.
Friday night it was Brett Connolly who, as coach Guy Boucher said, was "good again" in a 5-2 victory over the Panthers in Tampa Bay's only preseason game at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Connolly, 19, the No. 6 overall draft pick of 2010, had his second assist in as many nights and played on a line with C Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis.
"I want to get better every day, and I feel I've done that," Connolly said. "Take it day by day and get better every day."
Ryan Shannon scored twice. Mattias Ritola, Carter Ashton and Vinny Lecavalier scored, Pavel Kubina had two assists and Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves as Tampa Bay (1-2-0) beat a Panthers squad without most of its best players.
But it was Connolly, with cuts coming Sunday, who played the game he needed to keep up with Ritola, Ashton, Dana Tyrell, Blair Jones and Cory Conacher, all of whom are on an ever-increasing bubble.
"It's starting to be a little too hard now," Boucher said of determining cuts. "We're going back and forth about who's going to be playing (today at Florida)."
Connolly, who came into camp a long shot to make the team, will play after again showing a willingness to get to the net and the corners and mix it up physically.
"That's what he's learned," Boucher said. "Rather than coming in to show your skills, it's the opposite. You have to have some grit and the skills come out of it."
RADIO DAZE: With the Rays on WDAE-AM 620, USF football on WFLA-AM 970 and Gators football on WHNZ-AM 1250, the Lightning's radio broadcast tonight will be only on the Internet. Pick it up at tampabaylightning.com, 620wdae.com or 970wfla.com.
MINOR MOVE: The Lightning signed D Daniel Milan to a three-year, two-way deal. The training camp invitee had 14 goals, 38 points and 76 penalty minutes last season in 68 games for Moncton of the junior Quebec league.
ODDS AND ENDS: C Dominic Moore did not practice for what the team said was body maintenance. … The team skates at 11 a.m. today at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.