Fortier’s hat-trick leads Bolts to first preseason win

After trailing for most of the game, Tampa Bay exploded for five goals in the final period Friday night at AMALIE Arena to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 8-5 to win the first preseason game.

Gabriel Fortier picked up a hat-trick to speed up the lightning strike. Fortier scored the go-ahead goal – his second of the game – with 8:06 remaining to give the Bolts their first preseason lead at 6-5.

The Lachine, Quebec native added a short tally with 3:27 to go to build the Lightning cushion and score his third goal of the game. Fortier also had a goal in the second period that put Tampa Bay inside the goal after the Hurricanes built a 3-1 lead.

“He’s a competitor. He’s fast. And he was great on the PK. He deserved his goals tonight,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “He had three, he probably thought he would have four. That post got in the way a few times. He’s just competing hard. I don’t want to start comparing him to people because then that’s an unfair name, but you wins with guys like Fortier He still has a lot to grow in his game but he’s just one of those guys that’s gotten better every year and he’s competing You want those guys So if he keeps going here we’ll see what is happening down here, but he’s definitely made a name for himself, so good for him.”

He won a face-off on Fortier’s hat-trick goal against Ondrej Palat, who returned the puck to him for a rapid-fire shot before the Hurricanes could react.

“I’m not used to taking face-offs,” Fortier said. “I think the last time I took a face-off was a year ago. Good face-off and Pally just tapped it right at me. I didn’t even look, just threw it at the net and got lucky. “

The Lightning and Hurricanes scored four goals in the span of 2:16 halfway through the third period to turn a 4-3 deficit from Bolts into a 6-5 lead. Pat Maroon scored in his preseason debut at 9:38 of the third to tie the score 4-4, but Carolina regained the lead 13 seconds later after CJ Smith’s second goal in the game.

The Bolts tied the game for the fourth time less than a minute later when brayden point fired into the net from the slot at 10:43 of the third.

Then Fortier took over to put the Lightning in charge and keep them there.

Carolina opened 6:31 into the match on a difficult angle shot down the goal line by Derek Stepan that snuck up behind Lightning goalkeeper Hugo alnefelt before he could withdraw it. Initially there was no goal signal on the ice until the umpires at the scorer’s table conferred and after some discussion a goal was signaled. After review, the call on the ice was confirmed.

The Lightning have so far given up on the opening goal in all three preseason games.

Palat made it 1-1 at 11:54 of the first after a stunning series of passes between the Bolts’ top line. All three players – Palat (goal, 2 assists), Brayden Point (goal, 2 assists), and Nikita Kucherov (3 assists) – finished with three points on the night.

Carolina led 3-1 on goals from Spencer Smallman (14:37 – 1st) and Jordan Martinook (6:33 – 2nd). After Fortier got the Lightning inside a target, Corey Perry knocked on the power play in his Lightning debut to make it 3-all en route to the final period.

“Great Guy,” Victor Hedman said about his new teammate Perry. “We were very lucky to get such a man. We knew it would be difficult to replace the guys we lost, but at the end of the day we were very lucky to have (Pierre-Edouard Bellemare) and Corey Today was a pre-season game, but we know what they’re going to bring when the regular season starts. They’re two tough players to play against. It’ll be nice to have them on our side.”

Perry added an empty goal with 1:42 to go for his second of the game.

Alnefelt started and played the entire game, stopping 39 of the 44 shots he faced to take the first win for a Lightning netminder this preseason.

Cooper challenged his team Friday after their match level was not where it should be in a 6-2 loss to Nashville the night before.

The lightning reacted.

“I thought there was a reaction all day long,” said Cooper. “I think we had to kind of check the reality of where we were in the pre-season. Not necessarily looking at wins and losses, but aside, it’s guys coming up and wanting to impress and trying to make this team. Our level of urgency was there just not sure in the second game and some of the first but tonight i thought guys were working there were a lot of young guys in this game on both teams and everyone was working the vets working rookies working it was not a fun night for the goalkeepers, but it was probably an entertaining evening for the fans, I can tell you that. But everyone worked, and that’s a good sign.”

The Lightning complete their three-games-in-three-nights Saturday when they travel to Nashville to defeat the Predators at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. Eastern puck drop).


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