Predators take NHL lead with 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay

The Nashville Predators completed an impressive sweep of back-to-back games this weekend with a 4-3 triumph at Tampa Bay, on the strength of 42 saves from Anders Lindback and a widespread offensive effort that saw 12 different players earn points. With the win, Nashville has pushed their record to 5-0-3, tops in the NHL with 13 points. It's a position they should maintain for at least a few days, since the teams immediately behind them (Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay) don't play Monday or Tuesday.

It bears repeating - after defeating Dallas 1-0 last night, the Predators had to fly over 900 miles, and due to the time zone change, there were only 22 hours between the opening faceoffs of both games this weekend. That's a brutal challenge for any team, let alone one as injury-riddled as the Preds are these days.

Follow after the jump for analysis, advanced even-strength stats, and of course the video highlights!

The Mississippi River Scum St. Louis Blues come to town on Thursday to take on the Preds. Use this special offer for OtF readers to save money on Nashville Predators tickets for this, or any other home game.

The bullet points are working, so let's stick to 'em!

  • It was great to see both Shea Weber and Sergei Kostitsyn get their first goals of the season. 12 different Preds have at least one goal, with only Martin Erat and Matthew Lombardi (who have both missed games due to injury) the key offensive players who haven't tallied yet.
  • After Tampa Bay took an early 1-0 lead, the goals by Weber & Kostitsyn put them up 2-1 after one period. During the second, the Preds took some penalties, and their penalty kill really came through. In 7:04 of total PK time, Nashville gave up only 5 shots and no goals.
  • The lone score of the second period is another early candidate for Nashville Goal of the Year, as Cody Franson went in all alone on Dan Ellis and beat with a classic deke. When a 6'5" guy puts a move on like that, the goalie has no chance.
  • The Lightning are a dynamic club, and they outshot the Preds in each period, but Nashville did their best to at least clean up rebounds and guard the dangerous scoring area in front of the net.
  • That said, Lindback was tremendous, stopping Vincent Lecavalier on a 3rd-period breakaway and generally filling up a massive amount of space in goal. @TheGoalieGuild was watching Lindback and providing lots of compliments on his play during the game on Twitter.
  • J.P. Dumont played well after leaving last night's game in the 3rd period.
  • The game appeared locked up when Colin Wilson made it 4-1, after Martin Erat passed up a wide-open shot to fire a pass over to Willie for the goal. Just moments later, however, the Lightning turned up their game.
  • Quick goals by Martin St. Louis and (former Pred) Adam Hall made it 4-3, and things got even spookier (it is Halloween season, you know) when Erat took a bad penalty, cross-checking Steven Stamkos deep in the defensive zone, putting the Preds on the PK with the game on the line. Remember, he took a late call against Pittsburgh which created a 4-on-4 situation rather than giving Nashville a power play, and that led to the Preds giving up a tying goal.
  • Not only did the Preds kill off that late Tampa PP, but perhaps the highlight of the night came in the final minute, as the team scrambled furiously in the defensive zone, eventually throwing the puck down the ice. Steve Sullivan went all-out to dive for the puck and touch it first, negating what would have been an icing call, and another faceoff deep in the Nashville end with some tired Preds.
  • I said before the start of the season that this was one of the 10 Toughest Sets of Back-To-Back Games in the NHL this year, and the fact that Dallas and Tampa Bay got off to such hot starts (a combined 10-2-1 record coming into these games) only makes this sweep more astounding. The Preds now get some well-deserved rest before hosting the Blahs Blues on Thursday, and hopefully we'll see Ryan Suter back in the lineup.
  • I'm with Jim Diamond on this one - "When Suter returns, Sulzer should stay in the lineup." Not sure who I'd scratch, but Sulzer is getting the job done, and was a well-deserved +2 on the night.

As to the advanced even-strength stats:

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 David Legwand C 15:50 1 0 0 0 6 15 -9 11 24 -13
 Steve Sullivan L 15:31 0 1 0 1 6 13 -7 9 23 -14
 Martin Erat R 14:53 1 0 0 1 6 10 -4 11 17 -6
 Joel Ward R 13:17 1 2 0 2 7 12 -5 12 18 -6
 Cal O'Reilly C 13:13 2 2 0 0 5 9 -4 9 17 -8
 Jerred Smithson R 12:45 1 1 0 0 6 12 -6 7 16 -9
 J-P Dumont R 12:04 0 0 0 1 5 6 -1 7 11 -4
 Jordin Tootoo R 11:45 0 1 0 0 5 10 -5 11 16 -5
 Patric Hornqvist R 11:42 2 0 0 1 6 7 -1 9 15 -6
 Colin Wilson C 11:38 4 1 0 0 5 7 -2 8 10 -2
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 10:58 1 0 0 0 7 9 -2 10 11 -1
 Nick Spaling C 9:32 0 0 0 0 6 9 -3 7 11 -4
 Francis Bouillon D 19:33 2 0 0 0 9 17 -8 12 23 -11
 Shane O'Brien D 19:01 0 1 0 1 6 15 -9 13 24 -11
 Kevin Klein D 18:39 5 2 0 3 7 15 -8 12 24 -12
 Shea Weber D 18:35 1 0 0 0 9 15 -6 13 22 -9
 Alexander Sulzer D 14:32 1 0 1 0 8 9 -1 13 16 -3
 Cody Franson D 12:56 2 0 2 0 8 9 -1 12 16 -4

Notice anything interesting? How about the lack of a single Predator with a positive Corsi number tonight, or Shots On Goal +/-! The Lightning outshot the Preds 40-23 at even strength in this one, so Lindback really earned his paycheck tonight.

And let's go to the video...

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