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Gutsy performance in Nashville returns Lightning to win column

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

Sitting outside of a playoff spot following a three-game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Lightning entered Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators determined to return to the win column. In one of the more entertaining contests of the season, the Bolts and Preds put on a tremendous show. However, a dominant overtime would provide Tampa Bay with a golden opportunity to seal the victory and rebound from Saturday’s disappointing loss.

The Predators’ speed tested the Lightning early on, yet Tampa Bay held firm. The period remained quiet until the Lightning struck first. Victor Hedman opened up the scoring with a wicked slap shot 7:46 into the period. Tampa Bay killed off a Nashville power play midway through the period to preserve the 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

The penalty kill comes through, followed by a fight

The Lightning penalty killers hit the ice again early in the second period thanks to a Nikita Kucherov high-sticking penalty. In spite of the shorthanded situation, the PK unit delivered against the Nashville power play again. A short time later, the Lightning’s Luke Schenn dropped the gloves with the Predators’ Austin Watson. Schenn did not like an earlier hit on Hedman which occurred after Hedman laid out a Nashville player. Schenn earned the take-down, handing the Bolts much-needed momentum.

Nasty hit leads to ejection

At the 9:10 mark of the second period, Nashville forward Ryan Johansen hit Lightning forward Brayden Point with a high elbow, causing Point to bleed from his nose. As a result the officials rewarded Tampa Bay with a five-minute power play while Johansen picked up a game misconduct. Unfortunately, the Lightning power play failed to convert.  Nashville did a wonderful job on the penalty kill to prevent Tampa from extending their lead. They even forced Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to make a pair of huge saves towards the end of the power play.

Nashville ties it up, Tampa Bay regains the lead

The Predators eventually tied up the game off a goal from Calle Jarnkrok, making it 1-1 at 6:13 in the 2nd. Ondrej Palat answered right back with a goal of his own at 6:44 to regain the lead for the Lightning. Kucherov made everyone on the ice think he was going to shoot before slipping the puck to Palat with a beautiful pass that led to the Lightning taking a 2-1 lead.

Lightning penalties give Nashville life

Tampa Bay took three more penalties in the third period, giving Nashville the chance to tie it up. At 9:51 of the third period, Kyle Turris ripped a puck past Vasilevskiy, knotting the game up at 2-2. Late in the period, the Bolts would get a shot at putting the game away after Nick Bonino was called for high-sticking against Steven Stamkos. However, the Lightning would not be able to take advantage of the late power play, resulting in the game needing overtime.

Dominant overtime paves the way for a victory

The whole overtime period was all Tampa Bay. Anytime Nashville got the puck in overtime, the Lightning made sure it would not be for long. Lots of puck movement and passing by the Bolts kept the puck in the Predators’ zone, allowing the Lightning to keep the pressure on goaltender Pekka Rinne. Because of that pressure, Kucherov was able to bank in a deflection from Stamkos past Rinne to seal the 3-2 win for the Lightning 2:35 in overtime.

Tampa Bay returns home to take on the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Puck drops at 7 pm.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Nikita Kucherov – Scored the game-winning goal in overtime and notched an assist on the Palat goal.

2nd Star: Kyle Turris – Scored a goal to tie the game for Nashville and assisted on Jarnkrok’s goal.

3rd Star: Pekka Rinne – Stopped 28 of 31 shots and helped Nashville kill off a five-minute major penalty.

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