Florida Panthers prospects nipped by Lightning in rookie tournament finale
Nick Bjugstad's fourth goal was not enough as Tampa Bay edged the Kiddie Cats by a 2-1 margin to claim tournament bragging rights.
Nick Bjugstad stayed hot but the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed the top spot in the Coral Springs rookie tournament by posting a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday at the Saveology.com IcePlex. The Lightning entered the game with a 1-0-1 record after Friday's 5-5 tie with Boston and a 7-4 win over Nashville on Saturday. The Panthers were looking to build on Saturday's 5-4 comeback victory over the Bruins after they were blitzed 8-4 by the Predators in their first game on Friday.
Bjugstad opened the scoring in the first period by knocking in a Logan Shaw feed for his fourth goal in two games. The lead would not last long as the Lightning responded quickly with Nikita Kucherov getting the tying goal with assists going to Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek.
Kucherov would strike again during the the second period off a give-and-go play with Jonathan Drouin. It was the fourth goal in Coral Springs for Kucherov who finished as the tournament scoring leader with seven points.
The game would get scrappy after that as Tony Turgeon and Tampa's Carl Nielsen had it out. Wade Megan and Artem Sergeev scrapped before the end of the frame. The aggression would spill over into the third as Josh McFadden battled Tampa Bay's Brett Welychka and Josh Brown took on the Lightning's Jake Dotchin for a second time.
The Panthers picked up the pace and fired nine shots on goal during the third period but could not solve Tampa goalie Kristers Gudlevskis to tie things up. Florida finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, good for third place.