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Bolts foiled by Rinne in tough defeat to Nashville on home ice

Entering tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been cooking on home ice. They’d won four straight at Amalie Arena. Enter: the Nashville Predators. Fans in the Bay expected a high-paced, tightly-checked game, and that’s exactly what they got. The Bolts really threw the body around tonight. But would it be enough to fend off Pekka Rinne and the stingy Preds?

Ultimately, in a tight checking game such as this one, the team with the hotter goaltender usually picks up the win for his team. Tonight, it was clear who that goaltender was from the get-go.

Getting pucks on net.

It turns out, Jon Cooper isn’t the only NHL coach preaching the importance of getting pucks through to the goalmouth and at the very least, looking for rebounds. Peter Laviolette’s other-worldly defensive corps were all born and bred to get pucks in the direction of the net, at the very least.

Would there be an early goal? Yes, and it was Kyle Turris who came through.

A Mattias Ekholm point blast had eyes and Kyle Turris was in the right place at the right time to put the Preds up 1-0.

Eleventh hour: tough pill to swallow

With less than seven seconds to play in the first, Andrei Vasilevskiy surrendered another one that he’d like back simply because it was at the end of the period. Ryan Johansen delivered a spin-o-rama pass and Roman Josi finished after crashing the net. The Preds were up by a pair after one.

Koekkoek gets the Bolts on the board.

Entering this season, Slater Koekkoek has notoriously struggled to have any lengthy looks when he found himself in the Lightning lineup. With Victor Hedman sidelined, it would be a no-brainer to think Koekkoek would do his best to chip in offensively. He did exactly that, ripping one to the top corner of the net at the 5:33 mark, narrowing Nashville’s lead to 2-1 after two periods.

Solid outing, no results.

It seems around Halloween, there’s something mighty bewitched going on in the NHL. The Lightning have had much less inspiring performances than what we saw tonight and still come away with two points. They were out-shooting the Preds 30-19 through two periods, and surprisingly enough, out-hit them 23-9 through 40 minutes. Unfortunately for the Lightning, winning in analytics is not nearly enough to overcome the efforts of Pekka Rinne when he’s on. He had 42 saves in this one.

Not their night

The Bolts were on in the third period. At the 7:38 mark, Tyler Johnson had generated seven shot attempts by himself in the game. The third period was arguably the Bolts’ most effective period tonight. Yet time after time, Rinne stymied the Lightning before Calle Jarnkrok got the Preds the two-goal lead and made the Bolts’ hill that much steeper with less than five minutes to go. The eventual empty-netter from Miikka Salamaki disposed of the Bolts in this one by a 4-1 score. Despite the playoff-like atmosphere and a tightly contested team between powerhouses of their conferences, this turned into a tough defeat for the Bolts.

The Lightning will be back in action on Saturday from Montreal, with the puck dropping at 7 pm.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Pekka Rinne – Rinne was simply masterful in this one, finishing with 42 saves. If not for him, the Lightning walk away with two points tonight.

2nd Star: Calle Jarnkrok – Jarnkrok had a goal and an assist in the contest and was dynamic offensively.

3rd Star: Braydon Coburn – Since Victor Hedman’s injury, Coburn’s efforts on offense have been obvious. He was a force again tonight, and the sustained zone time he created gave the Bolts the boost they needed to stay in this hockey game.

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