The Nashville Predators headed to Florida, accompanied by the dads, to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.
The Lightning came out ready for blood, and drew it fast. Brayden Point scored just over a minute in, on a high-speed play that wasn’t even the Bolts’ first good chance of the game, and the Preds couldn’t get their skates back under them. They looked discombobulated, with Saros seeming uncertain; they played discombobulated, eventually taking a too-many-men penalty. Corey Perry scored 27 seconds into the Lightning power play, 2:53 into the game, giving the Bolts a commanding early 2-0 lead.
Although things calmed down a little after that, the Preds still weren’t able to take control of the period back, and before too long Jeremy Lauzon took a tripping penalty. That, somehow, was the help the Preds needed, as Mark Jankowski and Yakov Trenin capitalized on a Steven Stamkos turnover to score Nashville’s first shorthanded goal of the season.
The Preds were able to kill off the rest of the penalty, then went on the attack. While they swarmed around the Lightning net, Jeremy Lauzon drew a high-sticking penalty, sending Patrick Maroon—who’d been itching for a fight with Michael McCarron since the start of the game—to the penalty box.
Unfortunately, the Preds were unable to score with the skater advantage, and the Lightning counterattacked as Maroon left the box. While they weren’t able to score again before the end of the period, and the Preds made it to intermission still only down one, the Bolts continued to display their control of the game.
Nashville did start the second period off with a brief flurry, before getting backed into their own end and trapped there for a long, long time. Matt Duchene finally managed to get enough of a clear to allow the Preds a partial change, and they were able to regroup from there.
Halfway through the period a fight broke out after all, but between Cole Smith and Cal Foote. They headed to the penalty box, and the back-and-forth play continued. Eventually, Alexandre Carrier picked up his own rebound and scored to tie the game 2-2.
Energized, the Predators continued to press, but were unable to take a lead. The game headed to second intermission still tied, which let the Lightning take the lead back early in the third period as Point scored his second of the game in a 2-on-1. The Predators pushed back hard, but Nicholas Paul scored again a few moments later, giving the Lightning their two-goal lead back and wiping out the rest of the Preds’ momentum.
McCarron almost gave Maroon the fight he had been spoiling for, by going after Victor Hedman along the boards, but Maroon didn’t make it to him and the referees broke up the scrum. Further hostilities broke out a few moments later, as Jankowski hung out for a little too long around Brian Elliot’s net.
With just under six minutes remaining, Hedman tripped Matt Duchene and the Predators got another chance on the power play. Instead, the Lightning scored a shorthanded goal of their own, put into the net by Brandon Hagel and giving the Bolts, also, their first shorty of the season, as well as a 5-2 lead.
The Predators pulled Saros earlier than usual, trying to make up that three-goal deficit, but after a stretch of time where despite both teams’ chances neither team managed to score with the Preds’ net empty, they put Saros back in and accepted the defeat.