Going into Nashville for the last game of their road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning sought their third straight win. Up to this point, this road trip has been a seriously mixed bag. After a tough loss to the Buffalo Sabres to start it off, Tampa Bay won two of the strangest hockey games you’ll ever see. The last time the Lightning and Predators met, Tampa Bay played a great game, but ultimately lost due to Pekka Rinne’s dominant performance in goal.
Hedman takes care of business early
Tampa Bay has been heavily criticized lately for their slow starts. This was not the case for on Monday as they took it to Nashville early. A big time rush on Pekka Rinne forced an early Nashville penalty, giving the Bolts a man-advantage. The early power play was uneventful, however, as Nashville’s high-pressure penalty kill only allowed one shot. Then only a few minutes after the power play expired, Victor Hedman buried a huge slap shot, putting the Bolts up early. Erik Cernak notched his first career point, earning an assist on the goal.
Nashville took back momentum when a breakaway forced Hedman to take a slashing penalty. Already down one man, the Lightning took another penalty when Ryan McDonagh was called for a hold. Now with a two-man advantage Nashville’s power play settled in and took their time, making crisp passes and moving the Lightning penalty kill unit all over the ice. With three seconds left on the second penalty, Nashville’s power play unit found the net tying the game 1-1 on a goal by Kyle Turris.
Nashville dominates in the second period
The Lightning avoided a slow start, but failed to keep pace with the Predators in the second. Nashville spent most of the first half of the second period in Tampa’s zone. The first goal of the period came from Filip Forsberg on a great shot that beat Louis Domingue high over the glove. Nashville’s second goal of the period was scored by Ryan Johansen, who batted a puck out of mid-air and redirecting it into the net.
Tampa was outplayed for most of the period by the Predators, but started to surge back late. Alex Killorn scored a goal, giving the Lightning new hope, but it was quickly dashed when the officials called Killorn for tripping Ryan Ellis in front of the net. Instead of narrowing Nashville’s lead to one, the Lightning were forced to go on the penalty kill. The subsequent shorthanded situation may have been the best two minutes the Lightning played all night. The Lightning spent almost the entire Predators power play in the Nashville zone even though they were a man short.
Predators survive late surge
Beginning the third period down by two goals, Tampa Bay brought everything they had. Head Coach Jon Cooper, who chose to dress 11 forwards, was mixing lines up almost every shift. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Tyler Johnson were put together and their speed and chemistry was immediately apparent. Point fed Kucherov with a perfect pass, and Kucherov beat Rinne, bringing the Lightning to within one.
Along with new line combinations, the Lightning probably ran every play in their playbook trying to find that last goal. The late pressure brought many chances, but the puck just would not go in. Point had a chance but hit the post. Johnson had a chance but shanked it behind the net. There were even some battles for the puck in front of the net, and all those battles went the Predators’ way. The Lightning could not find the equalizer and fell to Nashville by a final score of 3-2.
Tampa Bay returns to Amalie Arena to take on the Florida Panthers on Wednesday Nov, 21 at 7:30 pm.
Our Three Stars
1st Star: Pekka Rinne – Finished with 29 saves and a .935 save percentage
2nd Star: Brayden Point – Two assists and two shots on goal
3rd Star: Ryan Johansen – One goal and one assist
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