The Nashville Predators returned to their home ice after finishing their Floridian road trip with a record of 1-3. While they were back in the Volunteer State, they met the same foe they encountered down south: the Tampa Bay Lightning. Pekka Rinne got the start in goal, and Mattias Ekholm was a late scratch due to the upcoming birth of his child. Debuting the brand-new “Reverse Retro” jerseys, the Predators fell to Tampa, 4-1.
Opening the excitement for the Predators was Mathieu Olivier, who got into a fight with Lighting defender Luke Schenn. Olivier handedly won the bout, but Tampa won the period; Anthony Cirelli would beat Rinne and score the opening goal for the visitors around the halfway mark of the period.
For most of the period, Nashville’s highlight on offense was a Viktor Arvidsson slapshot from the playoff circle (because where else would he shoot from?) That was changed when Arvidsson sent a pass in to Filip Forsberg right in front of the net from the side of the ice, but Forsberg couldn’t get a stick on it and the moment was lost.
Calle Järnkrok opened up the special teams play for the night when he tripped Alex Killorn and sent Nashville to the penalty kill. Luckily, Rinne rose to the occasion and played a big role in killing off the first man advantage of the night. That would do it for the first twenty, as the Predators trailed, 1-0.
Nashville needed offense to get back in the game, and they were handed a golden opportunity early in the second period; Viktor Hedman was called for tripping on Arvidsson. In the latest example of their poor play with the man advantage, they did not score.
What followed the penalty was ten minutes of boring hockey. Nashville couldn’t get any chances that scared Tampa Bay, and the Bolts were content to sit back and maintain the shut out. Matt Benning was called for tripping right around the nine-minute mark of the period, which sent Tampa to the power play. On a wacky shot from the side of the net, Cirelli scored his second goal of the night and made the Predators pay for their penalties yet again.
With two minutes left in the period, Nick Cousins, Steven Stamkos and Hedman all went to the box with roughing calls; yet again, Nashville had a power play. The home team stayed true to their brand, thus not scoring, and a penalty on Järnkrok would send play to 4-on-4 to end the period. The Predators would begin the final period of play on the penalty kill.
Starting the period shorthanded, Nashville managed to kill off the penalty and bring the game back to even-strength. At the 14-minute mark, the Predators were granted their fourth power play opportunity of the night. While they did generate probably the most offense of any of the man-advantage opportunities, they were still held scoreless as the game neared its final ten minutes.
Nashville began attacking the net with higher intensity, and they were eventually rewarded with another power play. Finally, on their fifth chance of the night, the boys in gold got a power play goal! Dante Fabbro sent in a rocket from the blue line, and Nashville was somehow within one goal of a tie. The Lightning silenced any comeback effort from the Predators at the 90 second mark, as Blake Coleman fired the puck into the empty net to seal the game. Stamkos also had an empty-netter with mere seconds to go.
With a final score of 4-1 Tampa, the Predators are now 0-3 in their games against the reigning champs this year. They’ll have another shot at them tomorrow night.
- Hot take—I am not a fan of the Reverse Retros. On paper, they are not necessarily ugly jerseys; all of the features that are inspired by the originals make the jersey very nostalgic and heart-warming. However, instead of making the base color navy blue, they chose the safe option and kept it gold. What results is a hodgepodge of two different eras when an all-in, back-to-basics navy jersey would have been incredible. I’ll get off of my soap box.
- On a more positive note, I love the blue lids!
- Mathieu Olivier drops the mitts early in the first. How in the world is he only 23? He looks like a seasoned hustle guy already.
- Tolvanen sent Tampa a little shove as he left the ice after one. Is it a big deal? Probably not, but it’s nice to see him getting some confidence.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Dante Fabbro—Scored his first goal of the season.
- Eeli Tolvanen—Played with confidence, aggression, and even a little bit of swagger. He’s still not 100% there yet, but it’s promising.
- Mathieu Olivier—Won a solid fight to open the game. He also probably made the team harder to play against, which is obviously more important than scoring goals...