WINNIPEG – Simon Gagne admitted being a bit nervous before his first game with his new Tampa Bay Lightning teammates.
He had nothing to worry about.
The veteran forward netted a goal and two assists as the Lightning defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in NHL exhibition action Wednesday night.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I feel pretty good right now,” said Gagne, who was traded from Philadelphia in July for Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft.
“It’s a new chapter in my life. I was a little bit nervous before the game. Most of the time when you’re 30-years-old you’re not nervous before a pre-season game, but I was.”
Gagne started his career in Philadelphia and played 10 years with the Flyers.
“Now it’s a good feeling when you’re able to help the team to win and be able to score one goal and get a couple helpers,” Gagne said.
“It’s good for the confidence. It definitely helped to (make me) feel better. I’m pretty happy that the first one is done and went well and now I can focus and just be more relaxed now.”
Tampa is 2-0 in the pre-season after a Tuesday win against Dallas, while Chicago was playing its first game.
The Lightning also got goals from Steven Stamkos, Blair Jones and Winnipeg-born forward Carter Ashton in front of a crowd of 14,092 at MTS Centre.
Captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, both born in Winnipeg, replied for Chicago.
Toews said he enjoyed seeing family and friends in Winnipeg, but the fun is over for now.
“It’s nice to be home, but it’s time to get down to business and get back to pre-season,” Toews said.
Toews praised the play of teammate Igor Makarov, who assisted on his goal.
“He’s that type of player, kind of like (Patrick Kane), that once he gets the puck you notice him right away,” Toews said.
“I think that’s what makes him special. If it’s not right away—obviously he’s going to keep going as a player—I think he could definitely do some damage at this level.”
The Lightning had a 1-0 lead after the first period, although it took them a while to strike.
Gagne got things going when he shot the puck toward the net from the corner as Stamkos was coming around the back of the net.
Stamkos swatted at the puck and it went past veteran netminder Marty Turco at 17:57.
Chicago evened it up 49 seconds in the second period as Sharp went in on Tampa goalie Cedrick Desjardins and flipped the puck over him.
Ashton gave Tampa the lead on the power play when he got his own rebound and put it by Hannu Toivonen, who replaced Turco midway through the second.
The Lightning widened the gap to 3-1 on Gagne’s goal at 1:03 of the third period, but Chicago answered back 33 seconds later with Toews’ goal.
Jones netted the game’s final goal at 14:12.
Chicago outshot Tampa 33-29. The Lightning were 1-for-7 on the power play while the Hawks went 0-for-5.
Tampa heads to Edmonton for a match on Thursday, while Chicago travels to Detroit for a game Friday.
NOTES–Scratches for Chicago included forwards Marian Hossa and Kane and defencemen Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell. . . Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith was also born in Winnipeg.