Preseason games don’t get much more exciting than what the Nashville Predators managed to do to beat Tampa Bay Saturday night. ‘
You couldn’t have written the script any better for Matt Duchene‘s debut for the Nashville Predators. Sure, it’s just an exhibition game that doesn’t count, but fans and coaches alike got a small taste of what’s hopefully to come from this superstar.
The Predators get the 5-4 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning after Duchene scored the equalizer with less than four seconds remaining. Just before that game-tying goal, he nearly tied the game even sooner. It was a very exciting game considering it was preseason.
There was a decent amount of buzz heading into this game thanks to the roster the Predators chose to go with for this second of a home-and-home with Tampa Bay. The Lightning took the first of this two-game set back in Tampa Bay by a 3-1 score. There were late firework in that game as well, only in favor of the Lightning and Nikita Kucherov.
Matt Duchene’s debut
All of the buzz was surrounding Duchene’s debut in a Predators uniform, and rightfully so. He’s arguably one of the biggest acquisitions in this franchise’s history, and we were all eager to see him finally suit up. He didn’t disappoint as he was regularly controlling the puck and creating scoring chances.
Duchene played alongside Filip Forsberg and Eeli Tolvanen for much of the night. This line forced the action all night and made things happen. Duchene put five shots on goal en route to finishing with a goal and an assist. He assisted on a goal by Viktor Arvidsson to briefly tie the game at three.
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It’s still uncertain exactly who will line up alongside Duchene in the regular season. He’s expected to be on the second line, but who his linemates will be is up for debate. Playing with Forsberg and Tolvanen was fun to watch in this one, and he created scoring chances for those two as well Forsberg piled up the shots on goal with 11 for the game. All three scored goals to make for a very productive evening for this trio.
All of the big guns suit up together
It was our first glimpse at seeing the complete Predators roster play together, with a few exceptions. Big names like Roman Josi, Kyle Turris, Colton Sissons and Mattias Ekholm all suited up for the Predators fourth game of the preseason. This latest win puts them at a 3-1 record for the preseason, with two games remaining.
The power play is really starting to show some growth, and it’s a great thing to see. When you’re coming off of a last-place performance from your power play unit, even success in the preseason is something to be happy with. Duchene seemed to play a big impact in that in this win.
The Predators power play unit looked very crisp in Saturday night’s action, officially converting on two of their five chances. The power play goals came from the usual suspects of Forsberg and Arvidsson, but Tolvanen narrowly missed making the Predators successful on three of their five power play attempts. The time had just expired, but you can still attribute that goal to being effective with the man advantage.
A game like this with all of your main players out there will hopefully offer some clarity for head coach Peter Laviolette as the regular season approaches. He has a lot of sorting out to do, mainly in the bottom six. It’s still unclear where to put Turris in this lineup, but many think the second line is likely. This game saw the top players of the Predators really carry the load.
It also can’t be overlooked that the youngster Rem Pitlick is making a case for himself to push for the NHL roster sooner rather than later. He gets the game-winning goal in overtime to seal the comeback victory in what has been an impressive offseason along with Tolvanen.
The Predators have two preseason games remaining, with the next one coming on Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. That game will be in Nashville and can be viewed on Fox Sports Tennessee at 7 P.M. CDT.