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Tampa Bay Lightning loses preseason game to St. Louis Blues 4-3

ORLANDO — For Cory Conacher, Wednesday night's preseason game was his chance "to see where I fit in."

Pretty well, as it turned out.

Playing in his first NHL game, the Lightning left wing scored a dazzling power-play goal in which he crashed the net and also crashed his chin into the post.

Tampa Bay fell to the Blues 4-3 at the Amway Center, and the team for the first time fell to 0-2 in preseason. But Conacher continued what has been training camp's best story as the undrafted free agent continues to push for a roster spot.

"He made a statement that he's not intimidated by the size and the speed of the game," coach Guy Boucher said. "It was a new level of adaptation for him. Can he keep it up? That's another question."

There is no question the Lightning has much to work on. With a lineup that included most of its biggest stars, the team had just 24 shots. It did go 3-for-7 on the power play, with Marc-Andre Bergeron and Eric Brewer also tallying.

But the effort was uneven. Brewer's goal with 5:19 left in the third period tied the score 3-3. But his bobble of the puck in front of his net led to Adam Cracknell's winning goal with 2:20 left.

For Conacher, 21, the game was all he could have asked. "It was a special game for me," said the 5-foot-8, 185-pounder, whose goal off a crisp pass from Brett Connolly 8:13 into the third period tied the score 2-2. "I felt comfortable out there. It was fun."

"He's one of those guys we have to take a close look at," Boucher said. "He wants to stay. … He's got character, speed and skill. That's a very good mix.

EJECTED: D Mattias Ohlund's was called for a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct with 7:24 left in the first period for elbowing Ryan Reaves.

Ohlund faces an automatic $200 fine and the possibility of supplemental discipline by the league. "I guess my hands came up. I certainly wasn't trying to hit him in the face," Ohlund said. "I've played a lot of games and never have been thrown out before for a hit to the head or suspended, so that's it."

GOALIES: Dwayne Roloson stopped eight of nine shots in 29:36 of work. Jaroslav Janus allowed three goals on 12 shots.

ICE ISSUES: The reviews for the ice at the Amway Center, which is about a year old and hosted its first NHL game, were not good. Players called the surface choppy and wet.

"Oh, my God," C Vinny Lecavalier said. "It was tough to keep the puck on the ice."

"As probably as bad as you can have," Bergeron said. "The puck was hard to handle, so it was hard to make plays. But we're pros. We have to do better than what we did."

BACK IN NET: Dustin Tokarski was back on the ice the day after two MRI exams showed no damage in his abdominal or pelvic regions, and the organization's No. 3 goaltender said he was without the "tweaky pain" that had bothered him for several days.

"It was a huge sigh of relief," Tokarski said. "This was my best day in four months."

Originally hurt in April during AHL Norfolk's playoffs, it was believed Tokarski might have aggravated that abdominal injury or perhaps had a sports hernia or pelvic tendonitis. Instead, the diagnosis was general soreness brought on by again practicing regularly.

"I'm looking forward to being ready for game action soon," he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: The game was the 10th the Lightning played in Orlando (including five exhibitions). The attendance of 11,688 was greater than any of the regular-season games. … The team will practice at 11 a.m. today at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

Tampa Bay Lightning loses preseason game to St. Louis Blues 4-3 09/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:49am]
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