ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 20: A video tribute to the members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv Russian hockey team that were killed in a plane crash is played prior to a pre-season game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on September 20, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the Lightning 3-1. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Lightning opened up the preseason tonight in St. Louis with a 3-1 loss to the Blues.
Lightning winger Steve Downie was everywhere for the Bolts, clearly leading the team in both energy and skill as he was the only Lightning player to beat Blues goalie Brian Elliot. Downie scored on a tip-in at 9:35 of the second period. Downie's goal would be the only power play goal the Lightning would score despite eight man-advantage chances, including a double minor early in the second.
Despite Downie's presence, the Lightning looked sloppy top to bottom as the Bolts had several giveaways and missed passes from the defense, and lots of juicy rebounds from both goalies. Mathieu Garon started the game for the Bolts and was spelled by Jaroslav Janus after the Downie goal in the second.
The game did feature quite a stirring fight, as Eric Neilson took on Anthony Peluso in a huge slugfest about halfway through the second. Both players landed big punches and received quite an ovation from their teammates upon returning to the bench. The battle seemed to give the Blues the momentum though as about six minutes later, Matt D'Agostini put the Blues back ahead for good, collecting an errant pass and burying it past Janus into a mostly empty net.
Evgeny Grachev had the other two goals for the Blues, with both of them being assisted by Jamie Langenbrunner, and David Backes. The second was an empty netter that clinched the game.
NOTES: Tonight also marked the debut for the Lightning's new uniform system. The road whites look very crisp with the numbers and names being very discernible from the box. There was a several minute video feature prior to the national anthem honoring the hockey players who have died this summer followed by a moment of silence.