The Nashville Predators fell to to the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night, a game in which they looked finished by the start of the third period.
It turned out the Predators had plenty of fight left in them at the end, but it was too little too late, as their valiant late game effort ended in a disappointing 4-3 defeat.
They return to business Monday night, as they remain in Tampa Bay to complete the second of their first two-game series against the Lightning.
It’s no question that the Predators are the inferior team in this matchup, but their performance Saturday night proved that they are capable of emerging victorious.
Here is how they can do it.
When a team has the hot hand, they have a big advantage, and the Predators have the hot hand heading into this matchup. Not only that, but the fact that they can carry it into this rematch is an even bigger advantage.
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They just have to pick up right where they left off on Saturday night, because what they were doing toward the end of that game was working. They should also channel their frustration from last Sunday — the last time a solid late game effort fell short.
That was the second of two games against the Dallas Stars, forcing them to end that series on a tough note. Fortunately for them, that’s not the case here, as they have an opportunity to sustain last game’s momentum against the team that beat them.
They were, and might still be, undoubtedly bitter about their unfinished business from last weekend, but have been given a second chance to make sure that this series doesn’t end similarly.
The Predators must do everything in their power to make sure that does not happen.
Play with Discipline
How many times do we have to mention this? As has happened in many games this year, one of the Predators’ biggest reasons for losing Saturday was the amount of penalties taken.
In particular, Mark Borowiecki‘s penalty early in the second period was arguably the main catalyst for the Lightning gaining momentum and scoring four goals in that frame. One of those goals was another power play goal toward the end.
Safe to say, taking seven penalties is a recipe for disaster against a team as talented as the Lightning. Few teams’ penalty kills can hold up against a team as loaded as they are up front, let alone one as abysmal as the Predators’ has been.
This should be a relatively easy fix to make, yet has repeatedly been an issue throughout the season. It is as crucial as ever to stay out of the box in these kinds of matchups, so they must find a way to do so.
What is This Team Truly Made of?
We know that the Predators are a determined team that does not quit no matter what. That has been evidenced by the majority of games they have played this season, as they have managed to improve throughout.
What we don’t know is how they will perform in this type of situation. How will they react in a rematch against a team they were expected to decisively lose to, yet came up just short against?
This is a huge test for them, and an opportunity to change the perception of their team if they win. Can they do it? We will see.
Last season the Predators split the two-game season series with Tampa Bay, and historically the predators have faired very well against Tampa Bay with 16 wins to only nine regulation losses and a point percentage of 61 percent.
The Predators and Lightning will drop the puck at 6 P.M. CDT from Tampa Bay. It will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee and also on 102.5 The Game.