Losing is never fun, but it doesn’t take away from the enormous night it was for the city and for the Nashville Predators at the Stadium Series at Nissan Stadium on Saturday night.
In front of a reported soldout crowd of 68,619, both the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning treated the fans to a close game with plenty of physicality and aggression.
In the end, the better team on paper narrowly pulled out the 3-2 victory, but the Predators went toe-to-toe with the back-to-back Stanley Cup champs that have a really good chance of achieving their rare feat of a three-peat later this summer. The Lightning are that good.
As you would expect, the city didn’t waste the opportunity to put on an entertainment lover’s dream. Musical acts galore, including the headliners of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley:
Nashville Predators strike first, but come up short against Lightning
The enormous Nissan Stadium crowd erupted after witnessing the first outdoor hockey goal in Nashville for the Predators when Tanner Jeannot crashed the net on the power play to put his team up 1-0. Here’s a look at the historic goal courtesy of the team’s official website:
This goal perectly illustrates the type of hard-working player Jeannot is. He’s relentless in his style of play, and is a major factor as to why he’s got 18 goals on the season now and should still be firmly in the conversation for a crowded Calder Trophy race.
We knew the Lightning would come back, and that they did in the second period with their stacked roster of superstars. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov each scored gorgeous power play goals as the Predators once again struggled to stay out of the penalty box.
For all of the good it’s done for the Predators this season when playing aggressive and hard-hitting, it has also been their undoing in some of these pivotal games agianst top tier opponents like the Lightning.
The Predators would then fall behind 3-1 after a Steven Stamkos goal, which made the hopes of a comeback bleak as the time was winding down. However, the Predators proved what they’ve proven all season which is they never stop fighting even whey they’re down multiple goals.
Filip Forsberg got on the scoresheet less than a minute after Stamkos’ goal, bring the score to within reach at 3-2 with over seven minutes left in regulation. There was hope to send this to overtime and really give the fans another instant classic under the stadium lights.
The comeback falls short, but it doesn’t take away from the monumental night it was for the Nashville Predators franchise, and also to the Tampa Bay Lightning who were surprisingly competing in their first ever outdoor game.
Despite the bad blood between the two teams during the game, there was a mutual respect after the game with the handshake line and mid-ice and in postgame interviews.
Both teams udnerstood it was a hard fought and intense hockey game, and it’ s encouraging to see the Predators hang in with such an elite team.
This game caps off what’s been an incredibly massive week for the Nashville Predators after coming back in thrilling fashion to beat the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, and then retire Pekka Rinne’s No.35 jersey on Thursday in a shootout win over the Dallas Stars.
After seeing the success of this game for both the NHL and the franchises involved, it’s only a matter of when and not if the city of Nashville gets a Winter Classic next. A game that happens on New Years Day, and should get considerably even more national buzz than even this Stadium Series game got.
Winter Classic in Nashville should be next
Whenever the Predators do host a Winter Classic, I’d love to see a rematch of the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl and pit the Nashville Predators against the Dallas Stars. Make it happen, Commissioner Bettman.
The Predators come out of a grueling moth of February not because of a lot of games on the calendar, but more about the difficult opponents and so many long breaks in between to stay engaged. After losing four in a row after the All-Star break, the Predators rallied to beat the Panthers and the Stars.
Even with that, the Predators remain in a dog fight in the playoff race and are currently in the first wildcard position and just five points ahead of the Stars from falling out of the playoff picture altogether.
Up next are two games the Nashville Predators should win if they play the way they’ve played over the last week against superior competition. The Predators play at the Kraken on Wednesday, and at the Sharks on Saturday. Plenty more time to rest up and prepare for the end-of-season grind.