TAMPA — Alex Barre-Boulet knew he was in for a long day around 7 Saturday night when the Lightning called and told him he was coming back to Tampa.
Barre-Boulet didn’t have much time to pack, but he was ready for his 4 a.m. wakeup call Sunday to catch a flight out of Syracuse, where he was with the AHL Crunch. After making a connection in Atlanta, he landed in Tampa around 11:30 a.m.
He dropped his gear at Amalie Arena, grabbed a bite to eat and went to his hotel for an hour nap. Then it was showtime for a 5 p.m. game with the Wild.
In the Lightning’s 5-4 shootout win, Barre-Boulet filled in on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat, scoring a goal and logging 12:16 of ice time.
Barre-Boulet’s latest opportunity to prove himself worthy of an NHL roster spot came because center Brayden Point is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards during Saturday’s loss to the Devils.
“Obviously we want ‘Pointer’ back as soon as we can,” Barre-Boulet said, “but if I can get more minutes, I’m going to take them and work as hard as I can to hopefully stay here and help the team.”
From the way Barre-Boulet skated in warmups Sunday, it was hard to tell he had been on an early morning flight.
“I was a little scared I was going to run out of energy, but it was fine,” the 24-year-old said. “When you start playing, you have to find a way to have energy, to contribute, so I think it went pretty well.”
Barre-Boulet’s skating abilities came in handy late in the third period when Minnesota forward Jordan Greenway slipped a shot between Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott’s pads. The puck bounced off the left post and into the crease, but Barre-Boulet was there to clear it with the toe of his stick before it could cross the goal line and tie the score at 3.
Barre-Boulet’s game was made all the better when he gave the Lightning a two-goal cushion at 4-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation. It was his second goal of the season.
“It was a long travel day for him, so I was really happy when he scored,” forward Alex Killorn said. “It was a huge boost for us. When you go two goals up, it helps out.”
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Barre-Boulet’s 2021 season got off to a tumultuous start. He didn’t make the Oct. 12 opening-night roster and had to go through waivers to start with Syracuse. But Seattle claimed him to give its lineup depth after a coronavirus outbreak put some players in the protocol.
After two games, and one assist, with the Kraken, Barre-Boulet was placed back on waivers Oct. 22 with Seattle’s lineup returning to normal. Tampa Bay reacquired him. He skated in seven games — with two assists and a goal — before he was reassigned to the Crunch.
Barre-Boulet’s previous experience with the Lightning was on full display Sunday as he comfortably played with the top line and second power-play unit, skating for 2:24 with the man advantage, something that would have been more difficult for a newer player.
“That’s what (Barre-Boulet) can do, and he can score,” coach Jon Cooper said. “And when you do have injuries like we have, we need guys to step in, you need your depth to help you out, and good for (Barre-Boulet). … You’re just happy for guys like that.”
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.
• • •
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.