Through the first seven games of this young season, the name of the game for the Nashville Predators has been consistency. They have, at various times, looked good, bad and ugly. Now, as they made their first trip to the Sunshine State this season, Nashville had a chance to get their first true signature win of the season against the reigning champions: the Tampa Bay Lightning. Pekka Rinne got the start in net, as the Predators lost a weird game, 4-3.
The first twenty minutes opened with somewhat of a feeling-out period. This ended when Pekka Rinne made a big stop on Lightning forward Ondrej Palat that opened up the ice. The Lightning began to get some offensive-zone presence, and matters worsened for the visiting Predators when Colton Sissons got called for hooking. Rinne stood tall, though, and kept the score at 0-0. Despite the rare penalty kill for the team in gold, Tampa seemed to get at least one scary shot off every time they went down the ice. If it sounds like I haven’t mentioned Nashville’s offense, that’s probably because it took the team over half the period to get a shot off. Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli both went to the box, giving Nashville a 45-second 5-on-3 man advantage. This, unsurprisingly, led to no goals. Nashville would get another shot at a power play and...they actually scored! Ryan Ellis scores the third man-advantage goal of the season by chipping the puck in past an out-of-position Vasilevsky. Dante Fabbro would go to the box late in the period, but time would run out on the first as the Predators held a 1-0 lead in a muddy first period.
Tampa Bay begun the second period on the power play and while they didn’t convert, they got another chance right away as Borowiecki gets sent to the box. Rinne showed more of the same quality he had in the first period, but eventually let one past him, courtesy of Tyler Johnson. With the score now tied, Tampa’s pressure just went up. After what felt like an entire period’s worth of time in the defensive zone, Nashville finally let another goal in as Callan Foote sniped one in on a one-timer to put the Bolts up one. Less than two minutes later, Hedman gets another goal in transition to make it a two-goal game in a matter of minutes. Later in the period, Nashville finally did get some good looks in their offensive zone. While they couldn’t get past Vasilevsky, they got some momentum going and it culminated in a power play opportunity. Personally, this is the last thing I wanted the sequence to culminate in, because it almost certainly means no goals for two minutes. This was the case once again, and the momentum slowly slipped away as the game became more back and forth. Tampa got another power play, and Stamkos gets a goal from the exact same spot as Foote. One fight and one power play later, the second period was over after a complete collapse from the Predators.
Once again opening the period on the penalty kill, Nashville managed to get a stop and bring the game back to 5-on-5. After some back-and-forth play where Tampa seemingly was just coasting to a victory, Nashville got another man-advantage and Mathieu Olivier gets his first career goal in front of the net. Olivier got caught with a high stick, but shoved a Lightning player afterwards and was thus sent to the penalty box with blood splattered on his visor. Late in the period, with the goalie pulled, Viktor Arvidsson scores his second goal of the year to bring Nashville within one with 90 seconds left. While the Predators did have some late pressure to try and tie it up, time ran out on them. With tonight's loss, Nashville will look to regroup as they face Tampa once again on Monday.
- Tampa is wearing their alternate black jerseys... is it a hot take that I don’t like these at all? Love the home blues, but I think the alternates are better served as practice jerseys.
- Rinne comes up big for the first time tonight against Palat. Moments like that are why this Lightning team is so scary; they can turn a casual transition into a high-danger opportunity in a matter of seconds.
- Pekka looks really good.
- Vasilevsky with a blunder that was about 3 inches away from Predators goal.
- Ryan Ellis finds the back of the net, and Nashville is somehow leading this game!
- Remember when I mentioned how Tampa’s speed makes them lethal at any given time? Yeah.
- If this game is bumming you out, go check out Connor McDavid’s goal tonight. Sheesh.
- Second period is over. So is the game.
- Dante Fabbro showing some fight (no pun intended) as he drops the gloves with Yanni Gourde.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- The State of Mississippi: Mathieu Olivier, a Magnolia State native, got his first career goal tonight. This is also the first goal scored in the NHL by a Mississippi-born player. Fun!
- Connor McDavid: His goal tonight made my viewing experience of this disappointment much more tolerable.
- Ryan Ellis: Scored a nice power play goal that gave Nashville an early lead.