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Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith surpasses expectations in preseason debut.

Simon Gagne collects the puck before beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun for a second-period goal that puts the Lightning up 1-0. Mike Lundin got the winner for the Lightning in overtime to back Mike Smith, who made 29 saves.

Associated Press

Simon Gagne collects the puck before beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun for a second-period goal that puts the Lightning up 1-0. Mike Lundin got the winner for the Lightning in overtime to back Mike Smith, who made 29 saves.

SUNRISE — Lightning coach Guy Boucher was honest before Friday night's game with the Panthers about what he expected from G Mike Smith: get a feel for the game and work on his positioning.

But Smith, in his first action of the preseason, did better than that, making 29 saves and handling the puck with confidence in a 2-1 overtime victory at BankAtlantic Center.

Mike Lundin got the winner with 1:39 left, and Simon Gagne scored in the second. Tampa Bay (3-1-1) dominated but was stymied by Tomas Vokoun, who made 40 saves as the Lightning had a 42-30 shot advantage.

Smith, the tip of whose right ring finger was fractured by a Steven Stamkos shot during a Sept. 20 practice, is expected to play again in tonight's preseason finale against Florida at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Smith's best moment Friday came with seven minutes left in the second period, when he stretched his left leg to stop Radek Dvorak's close-in shot at what seemed like an open net.

Florida tied the score with 5:25 left in the third period on Jason Garrison's goal.

CRAZY STAT: The Panthers, after Tampa Bay went 0-for-8 on the power play, have killed 32 of 32 penalties. Credit Vokoun, who made 11 saves while Florida was short-handed.

THE RACE IS ON: With 14 forwards on the roster and, at most, 14 forward positions available, Tampa Bay's final two preseason games, Boucher said, "are important for a lot of people," specifically W/C Eric Perrin, LW Johan Harju and C Dana Tyrell.

Boucher handicapped the race.

"He's a very smart player," he said of Perrin, 35. "He can kill penalties. He can win faceoffs, so he can do a lot of things."

About Tyrell, 21, he said, "He's a grinding type of guy who is going to give us momentum. He's first on the puck. He's not scared of anybody."

And of Harju, 24, a Swede: "He's a big boy with speed. He hasn't really figured out yet how the North American game is played on a consistent basis, which is probably his biggest task right now."

All in all, Boucher said, "A very tough choice."

ON THE SHELF: Boucher did not sound hopeful that C Dominic Moore (groin) will be ready for the regular-season opener Oct. 9 against the Thrashers at the Times Forum. He was cautiously optimistic about D Randy Jones (finger).

MORE SCRATCHES: Tyrell, D Mattias Ohlund (body soreness), G Cedrick Desjardins (groin/abdomen), LW Chris Durno, D Mike Vernace also sat.

NO VIDEO: The Lightning said it will not be able to provide streaming video of tonight's game at lightning.nhl.com as was planned. Only the audio, with Dave Mishkin's play-by-play, will be available. There is no television or radio coverage.

ODDS AND ENDS: LW Niklas Persson, assigned to AHL Norfolk, will return to Europe, GM Steve Yzerman said, relieving the Lightning of any financial obligation. The Swede impressed with his puck skills but seemed an inadequate skater. … D Matt Smaby (concussion) and LW Sean Bergenheim (shoulder) played their first preseason games.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith surpasses expectations in preseason debut. 10/01/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 11:29pm]
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