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INTIMATE CROWD WATCHES SENATORS EARN WIN

Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said Monday night's game with the Senators had a throwback feel thanks to the intimate Brandt Centre, home of the junior Pats.

"We walked in this morning, it kind of brings back memories of playing juniors," Tocchet said. "I kind of like these small buildings. It reminds me of the old Boston Garden with people right on top of you. It's kind of fun. I know it is for the coaches."

Less fun was watching Tampa Bay fall 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 7,000 that, not surprisingly, heavily favored the Senators.

Without its stars, the Lightning (1-1-1) was outshot 29-12. And if not for sharp goaltending for the second straight game by Antero Niittymaki, who made 18 saves on 20 shots in two periods of work, the score could have been worse.

Carter Ashton's goal 5:08 into the second period for Tampa Bay off a cross-ice feed from Steve Downie made the score 1-1. Alex Kovalev took advantage of a failed clearing attempt to score the winner at 8:00.

Jason Spezza scored a third-period goal with 9:36 left past Riku Helenius, who had eight saves on nine shots.

WALKER DEBUTs: Recovered from a minor lower-body injury, D Matt Walker, acquired as a free agent from the Blackhawks, made his Lightning debut.

"I'm just excited to get out there and play with my new teammates," he said before the game."

Walker said he still is rehabbing his left middle finger that was broken during last season's playoffs. Walker said he cannot completely bend the finger, though he can grip his stick with that hand.

"It's probably something I'll have to do forever," Walker said of therapy. "It gets pretty stiff in the joints."

As for exposing the finger to the risks of a game, Walker said, "I'm not overly concerned."

ROSTER TRIM: RW Lauri Tukonen was reassigned to Lukka Ruoma of the Finnish elite league, reducing the training camp roster to 41. Tukonen, 23, did not play in any preseason games. He had a European out clause in his contract.

NORFOLK SHAKEUP: Lightning GM Brian Lawton has taken over the same duties for AHL Norfolk. Mike Butters, after one season on the job in which the Admirals missed the playoffs and with two years left on his contract, was reassigned as a pro scout.

Lawton said Butters, who has a home in Helena, Mont., where he is co-owner of the junior Bighorns, will scout the West.

"At the end of the day, it's a better fit for us and the organization and a better fit for him," said Lawton, adding he plans to run the Admirals for the entire season. "We're streamlining a lot of what we're doing and reorganizing so we can get the most value and to be more efficient."

ODDS AND ENDS: Tocchet said goaltenders will play full games for the rest of preseason. ... C James Wright, 19, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, played in front of his parents, two cousins and two aunts. "It's going to be special for me. I hope it's special for them as well," he said. In the third period, Wright received a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Kovalev, who left the game briefly, bleeding from the face.

Around the league

Islanders: Wing Pascal Morency was suspended for the rest of the preseason and five regular-season games for leaving the bench to start a fight Thursday. The incident came after Calgary's Dion Phaneuf knocked Kyle Okposo unconscious with a check.

Rangers: Wing Sean Avery sprained his right knee during the morning skate. Coach John Tortorella said no timetable has been set for his return.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

* * *

Tonight

Lightningvs. Coyotes

When/where: 10:30; Comcast Arena, Everett, Wash.

Radio: 970-AM

Players (tentative): Goaltenders - Mike Smith, Dustin Tokarski. Defensemen - Lukas Krajicek, Andrej Meszaros, Matt Lashoff, David Hale, Vladimir Mihalik, Matt Smaby. Forwards - Carter Ashton, Brett McLean, Brandon Bochenski, Drew Miller, Jeff Halpern, Adam Hall, Todd Fedoruk, Blair Jones, Martins Karsums, Radek Smolenak, James Wright, Juraj Simek, Dana Tyrell.

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