TAMPA — Coming off an uninspiring 6-2 loss to the Predators on Thursday night, the Lightning had some pep in their step Friday against the Hurricanes, leading to their first win of the preseason.
“We just needed a little bit of a reality check in where we were at in the preseason,” coach Jon Cooper said after the 8-5 victory. “And it’s not necessarily looking at wins and losses. … It’s guys stepping up and wanting to make an impression.”
A three-goal flurry in 2½ minutes in the middle of the third period made a good impression. Even with nine veterans skating, some of the young talent helped carry the load, too.
Here are four things we learned from the game:
Newcomers Perry, Bellemare as advertised
If you weren’t convinced that new additions Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would be good fits, Friday was a good indication the veteran forwards are meshing just fine.
Skating on a line with Pat Maroon, the trio worked their way around the ice, digging for pucks out of the corners and staying heavy on the forecheck.
Bellemare and Perry bring a pest-like level of play. Perry stayed in and around the crease, poking around Carolina goaltender Antti Raanta, while Bellemare made an impact on the penalty kill, following the puck with ease and finding holes to clear the puck as time expired.
Perry scored to tie the score at 3 late in the second period on a power play from right outside of the crease. He added an empty-net goal with 1:42 remaining. Getting in those dirty areas will benefit the Lightning if he gets the power-play time expected.
Midway through the third period, Maroon scored the Lightning’s fourth goal on an assist from Bellemare.
Perry and Bellemare’s seasoned play — the pair have played a combined 23 years in the NHL — is a plus, but their personalities off the ice make them even more valuable. Cooper said the duo spends a lot of time talking to teammates, especially the young ones, and help “lift up” those around them.
“They are great on the bench,” Cooper said. “They’re vocal, they’re talkative.”
Kucherov in midseason form
Follow all the action on and off the ice
Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Nikita Kucherov led the last postseason in scoring with 32 points (eight goals), and if his preseason debut was any indication, he’s ready for the same kind of showing this regular season.
Kucherov grabbed a rebound off the boards from defenseman Jan Rutta with just over nine minutes to go in the first period and used the boards to pass behind his back to center Brayden Point at center ice.
Point raced down the ice and threaded a pass to forward Ondrej Palat from the bottom of the left faceoff circle. Palat then slid the puck past Raanta to tie the score at 1. Kucherov logged three assists and more than 17 minutes skating on the top line with Point and Palat, as usual.
Keep an eye on Fortier
Forward Gabriel Fortier, a 2018 second-round draft pick, showed off his speed as he scored the Lightning’s second goal. And he scored back-to-back goals late in the third period for a hat trick.
“You win with guys like Fortier,” Cooper said. “He’s got a lot of growing to do in his game, but he’s just one of those guys that has gotten better every year and he competes. You want those guys.”
Fortier, 21, is among the prospects fighting for a roster spot. He thinks he sent a good message to the staff Friday.
“I want to work hard when I skate, when I’m on the puck, on the forecheck,” he said. “That’s how I am successful, and I think I did that good (Friday).”
Hedman adjusts pregame routine
Victor Hedman doesn’t like to call himself superstitious. He just has habits.
Since before the 2017-18 season, Hedman had made a habit of poking the toe of his stick between then-assistant equipment manager Rob Kennedy’s fingers, which would be spread out on the boards during every pregame skate. After going through all eight gaps twice, he would shoulder bump Kennedy and take a lap around the Lightning’s side of the ice, meeting up with Palat in front of the team bench with another shoulder bump.
This year Hedman’s pregame routine looks a little different without Kennedy, whose contract was not renewed, team spokesman Brian Breseman said. Hedman went straight to his lap, meeting Palat near the team bench for their shoulder bump.
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.
• • •
The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.