TAMPA — Alex Volkov knows what spot he likes: low, just above the goalie’s pad. That’s the spot he hit Friday night to break the Lightning’s 8 1/2-period scoreless streak to open the preseason.
“I like that spot.” he said. “I just tried to shoot it. It’s tough for goalies, that spot.”
Volkov’s power-play goal from above the right hashmarks against the Predators’ Juuse Saros got the Lightning started in the middle of the third period, and Nikita Kucherov added two goals, one an empty-netter, to give Tampa Bay its first preseason win, 3-1 win at Amalie Arena.
The teams play again at 8 Saturday night in Nashville.
What coach Jon Cooper liked about Volkov’s shot was simply seeing the 22-year-old forward take it.
“He’s had opportunities to shoot it and hasn’t,” Cooper said. “He shot it (Friday), and that’s what happens when you shoot it. Good game by him.”
Taking a shot where he hadn’t earlier is a sign of the growing confidence of Volkov, a 2017 draft pick who has spent the past two seasons at AHL Syracuse. He called his play in previous camps “so-so,” saying he knows the mistakes he has made and now feels he’s ready.
Cooper expects young players to be nervous. The coach wants them to remember that hockey is hockey and to keep doing what got them here.
“You’ve seen the development of some of these players the last couple years, and it’s been fun to watch, “ he said. “Now you want to see them do it against the big boys.”
Volkov wants to show he can also play well defensively. He believes he has demonstrated his skill and now needs to show something different.
“But still, I have to score goals,” he said.