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Tampa Bay Lightning loses to St. Louis Blues 3-1 in preseason opener

ST. LOUIS — Yes, it is early, so early that there are areas of play the Lightning has yet to work on.

That is why it didn't faze coach Guy Boucher that his team went 1-for-8 on the power play Tuesday night during a 3-1 loss to the Blues in its preseason opener at the Scottrade Center.

"We didn't even practice it," Boucher said, adding, "I thought we worked hard."

Steve Downie's goal 9:35 into the second period, on a redirect of Pavel Kubina's pass, ended the power-play drought on the Lightning's seventh try and tied the score 1-1.

But Matt D'Agostini scored the winner with 3:07 left in the second on a wide-open shot he roofed past Jaroslav Janus. Evgeny Grachev scored his second goal into an empty net with 31.3 seconds left.

The game, which included none of the Lightning's biggest stars, included a heavyweight show in the first period between Tampa Bay's Eric Neilson and Anthony Peluso. Both players threw, and were hit with, big punches.

Boucher said he liked the line of Downie, Ryan Shannon and Mattias Ritola. He also praised the goalies. Mathieu Garon stopped eight of nine shots in 29:35 of work. Janus stopped 17 of 18 shots in 29:54.

"We knew we were coming in with a more grinding lineup," Boucher said. "That's the kind of game it was."

MEDICAL MATTERS: The Lightning got some good news about Dustin Tokarski, who apparently is experiencing nothing more than general soreness. The organization's No. 3 goalie had two MRI exams that showed no damage, GM Steve Yzerman said. It was believed Tokarski, originally hurt during last season's playoffs with AHL Norfolk, had either a sports hernia or pelvic tendonitis. Yzerman said Tokarski could be on the ice today. … D Charles Landry is being treated as if he has a concussion because he had headaches Monday after a workout on a stationary bike. Landry was elbowed in the back of the head Saturday by Richard Panik.

WEIGHTY MATTERS: F Blair Jones said he lost about 10 pounds during the summer and is a svelte 214. It showed during Sunday's scrimmage in which Jones scored on an end-to-end rush with a move around a defenseman. "I feel a lot better on the ice," said Jones, who is in the mix for a roster spot and took seriously advice from Yzerman to slim down. "In this game, a half a step means a lot. Less weight feels better, for sure."

ODDS AND ENDS: D Victor Hedman led the Lightning with 26:09 of ice time. … The loss snapped Tampa Bay's streak of six straight preseason openers without a regulation loss (5-0-1). … It is way too early to speculate about line combinations. But Boucher did say C Steven Stamkos and W Marty St. Louis are "a lock" to anchor a line, as are C Vinny Lecavalier and RW Teddy Purcell. … Boucher was on the ice for the first time during workouts at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, tinkering with the power play on which he said D Eric Brewer and Marc-Andre Bergeron will have prominent roles.

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to St. Louis Blues 3-1 in preseason opener 09/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 1:38am]
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