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With the Lightning struggling, the team tapped forward prospect Alex Barre-Boulet to make his NHL debut in Monday’s 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper shuffled his forward lines, pairing Barre-Boulet on the right side with left wing Alex Killorn and center Yanni Gourde on a revamped third line. The 23-year-old also joined the Lightning’s second power play unit, where he saw practice reps last week.
Barre-Boulet played 12:11 of ice time on 18 shifts, including 3:20 of ice time on the power play for Tampa Bay, which was coming off three losses over the past four games entering the night.
The 5-foot-9, 172-pound Barre-Boulet made a quick impact. He showed his passing ability early on. He flicked a pass from behind his own end line high in the air to Killorn in the neutral zone for a first-period breakaway. He also made a nice cross-circle pass in the second period to set up Ondrej Palat for an open shot before Palat drew a tripping call.
The rookie has been a dangerous scorer at every level he has played. That was a boon for the Lightning, who in two previous meetings with Carolina had not scored.
Barre-Boulet played with the Lightning in their summer restart camp and again in this year’s preseason camp, but Tampa Bay preferred to get him regular playing time rather than having him sit on the taxi squad. But with the Lightning looking to create more offense and switching their lines, it seemed to be an opportune time to add Barre-Boulet into the fold.
Barre-Boulet was recalled from the team’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, to join Tampa Bay’s taxi squad along with forward Ross Colton last Monday. Barre-Boulet played just three games for the Crunch before his promotion, logging three goals and one assist.
He was an AHL All-Star last season, finishing with 60 points in 56 games (27 goals and 29 assists) with the Crunch. Two seasons ago, he was the AHL’s Rookie of the Year following a season in which he had 68 points (34 goals, 34 assists) in 74 games.
He also had an accomplished juniors career, winning the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Year award and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s MVP in 2017-18.
With Barre-Boulet’s addition to the lineup, fourth-line center Gemel Smith, who had three assist in three games, sat out.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.
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