Former Admirals Come Up Big in Lightning Preseason Opener Victory
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Former Admirals played a large part in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s preseason opener victory on Saturday night. Brandon Bochenski had two goals and an assist, Karri Ramo made 26 saves and did not allow a goal in the shootout, and both Matt Smaby and Radek Smolenak registered an assist to help the Lightning to a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Janne Niskala added a goal and an assist the Lightning, who tied the game when Bochenski scored with 1:19 to play.
Steven Stamkos, the first overall pick in this year's draft, made a successful NHL debut under new Lightning coach Barry Melrose. Though limited to two shots and a minus-1 rating in his 21:41 of ice time, the 18-year-old player from Canada showed flashes of the talent that drew comparisons to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby - the top draft pick three years ago.
Crosby gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead with a short-handed, unassisted goal with 2:53 left in regulation. Pittsburgh had erased an early 3-1 deficit with two power-play goals by Petr Sykora.
Jordan Staal scored 51 seconds into the game for Pittsburgh with an assist from former Admiral Ben Lovejoy. Wyatt Smith also scored for Tampa Bay.
Ramo stopped both Miroslav Satan and Evgeni Malkin in the shootout to ensure the Lightning’s victory.
While the Penguins didn't use their regular lineup in entirety, most of the top stars - including Crosby, Staal, Malkin, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and newcomer Satan - played in the game.
Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins' top defenseman, left the game in the first period after a hit from former Admiral David Koci. He didn't return, and the Penguins didn't provide information about his injury.
Tampa Bay sat many of its top veterans, most notably new captain Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Eleven players in the Lightning lineup appeared in seven games or less at the NHL level last season.
The Lightning and Penguins will face off again in this home-and-home series on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Admirals will host the Philadelphia Phantoms on Friday and Saturday, October 3 and 4, at Scope in two preseason games. The 20th season of Admirals hockey officially kicks off on Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11, at Scope against the Hershey Bears.
Don't miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2008-09 season tickets today. Stop by the Admirals' Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!