Jeff Halpern’s two goals lead Lightning past Coyotes 2-1

EVERETT, Wash. – Jeff Halpern had two goals for Tampa Bay and James Wright added two assists as the Lightning defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in pre-season play Tuesday night.

After a scoreless first period, the Lightning were able to strike twice in just under three minutes in the second. Eight seconds after Adrian Aucoin picked up a roughing penalty for Phoenix, Jeff Halpern was able to bang in a rebound past Ilya Bryzgalov for the power-play goal.

Just minutes later, Halpern and he beat Bryzgalov to the near post to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead.

The Coyotes would finally get on the board at the 10:35 mark of the period. Radim Vrbata picked up the puck behind the Lightning net and circled in front. He crossed the puck in front of the net to Petr Prucha who knocked the puck past Lightning goalie Mike Smith.

Jim Vandermeer had two chances at the net with just under two minutes to play, but both shots were turned away by Smith.

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Smith was run into by a Phoenix player late in the first period knocking him into the net. He stayed down on the ice for a couple of minutes but stayed in the game and ended with 32 saves for the Lightning.

Coyotes managing partner and coach Wayne Gretzky was not in attendance. Gretzky has stayed away from the team during the bankruptcy court battle between the team, the NHL and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie. He has not attended training camp or any pre-season games.

However, Gretzky did attend his son Trevor’s high school football game in nearby Sammamish, Wash., on Friday night.

It was the NHL’s first trip to the state of Washington since the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins played a pre-season game in Tacoma on Sept. 23, 1992.

The two teams meet again on Wednesday night in Loveland, Colo.