Bridgestone Arena was electric during the Nashville Predators’ 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. After losing 0-3 to the Lightning this past Saturday, the Predators responded in a big way, with 11 players earning points in their final regular-season game against Tampa Bay.
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Despite all of the injuries suffered over the past several weeks, the Predators are now 13-3-0 in their last 16 games.
Shock And Awe
The Predators showed an early spark as Colton Sissons caught a smart pass from Josi and Pitlick and put it in the back of the net, giving the Preds a 1-0 lead just 6:38 into the game.
Over the next 2 minutes, Josi created several close opportunities on his own, finally netting a shot off the post to increase Nashville’s lead to 2-0.
Johansen took advantage of an errant pass from Tampa Bay, turning it into a two-on-one breakaway. His nifty saucer pass to Arvidsson resulted in Nashville’s 3rd goal of the night and the final goal of the 1st period.
Ryan Ellis got caught cross-checking right at the end of the 1st period, and the Lightning made use of the power-play opportunity early in the 2nd, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Tampa Bay clearly made adjustments during the 1st intermission and came surging back. However, the Predators stayed strong, and Johansen earned his 2nd assist, feeding Grimaldi directly in front of the net. The Preds then held a 4-1 lead.
The Predators saw several power-play opportunities but could barely get a shot on goal. The pace of the game was still high, but scoring slowed down greatly later in the 2nd and early in the 3rd. That is until Josi passed from the baseline to a streaking Arvidsson at center ice, who made easy work of the Tampa Bay goaltender. The lead had increased to 5-1.
Less than two minutes later, Ellis failed to clear a puck from the defensive zone, and Tampa Bay scored their final goal of the night, bringing the score to 5-2.
With about five minutes left in the game, Yakov Trenin got a great look in front of the net but couldn’t finish. Fortunately, newcomer and noted ass-kicker Jeannot was in a perfect position to control the rebound and score Nashville’s 6th goal of the night.
Nashville Predators Feeling The Connection
The Predators are firing at maximum power as we draw closer to the playoffs. Veterans who’d been previously slumping have returned to form. Young guns are finding their groove. Juuse Saros is playing out of his mind, allowing two goals or fewer in 13 of his past 15 games. The Herd Line continues to put opposing players in body bags. All in all, they’re playing very well as a team.
I have to say; this is a lot of fun.
It seems clear that the Predators have figured out how to win. Are they Stanley Cup contenders? Maybe not. But most NHL teams should be very scared of a series against this group.
I also need to mention the fact that GM David Poile only made one move at the trade deadline, which was acquiring former 1st round pick Erik Gudbranson as a depth piece on defense.
By doing so, Poile is clearly showing faith in this team, which really ought to serve as encouragement for the players and coaching staff. Notably, Granlund and Mattias Ekholm are here to stay (for this year, anyway), and Poile has strongly indicated he wants both of them back on future deals.
We have solid veterans and really promising rookies. It seems as though the rebuild may not even need to happen after all. Let’s hope that the Predators can finish the season strong and take this momentum into the playoffs.
The Predators will travel to take on the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, April 15 at 6:00 pm CST.