The Nashville Predators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday.
The Lightning may not have looked as bad as they did in Tuesday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets, but that’s a matter of degrees and they certainly did not look good, at least to the untrained eye.
“We defended. We worked. We had 70 shot attempts at the net. We held them to barely 35 or something like that. There’s a lot to build on that. We didn’t really give them much the whole night. They did an exceptional job. Well, you look at it both ways. Did they do an exceptional job blocking shots or did we shoot them into them? They had 24 blocked shots. That’s a lot. That’s more than shots on goal they had. They were defending as well, but I thought we did a lot of good things. We didn’t have a ton of scoring chances either so, that’s what I’m saying. It’s hard to say if the score was indicative of the game, but, as you said, we’re going to wake up in the morning and it’s going to say 6-1 so I guess it was a 6-1 game.” - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
“Well, I thought actually our first period wasn’t too bad. We were down one there. I think they had a couple seeing-eye ones that went in, kind of changed the momentum of the game. I thought we were working, but we weren’t our best. We didn’t respond well enough to take over the game, and obviously that’s tough.” - Lightning forward Tyler Johnson
“I don’t think it was a lack of execution, I think effort was there tonight and it's just one of those games where the puck goes into your net and you can’t find a way to score. So I definitely don’t think it was a 6-1 game, it's kind of a tough one to explain, but we have to take the effort with us. We have a big road trip coming up, and we have to get points. We have to forget about the result and take what was positive out of this game.” -Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman
Nashville jumped out to the early lead. Mike Fisher scored a power play goal on the second shot of the game at 2:25. He was assisted by Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm.
Meanwhile, the Lightning didn’t even get their first shot on the goal until 5:45, which came on a power play and was the only shot taken on that power play. Together, the teams would combine for only nine shots during the period, five taken by the Lightning.
A spark of life glimmered briefly at 17:12 when J.T. Brown fought Austin Watson, giving yet another sellout crowd of 19,092 something to indicate that the Lightning might actually be as interested in being there as they were.
The period ended with Nashville up 1-0.
It would be 2-0 at 3:56 of the second when Filip Forsberg flung the puck in the general vicinity of the net, surprised as anyone in the building that it went in. He was assisted by Kevin Fiala and Johansen.
The Lightning managed to chop the lead in half at 6:12 when Tyler Johnson scored a power play goal with a wrist shot from the right circle, aided by a partial screen from Alex Killorn. Victor Hedman and Killorn were credited with assists on the play.
The Predators spread the lead back to two at 13:21, getting the eventual game winner on another soft goal that somehow beat Vasilevskiy. This one, a wrist shot from the top of the right circle from Colton Sissons, assisted by Fisher.
Late in the period, an already tedious affair became even more tiresome when it turned into a football game.
At 14:04, an apparent goal from Nashville’s Ryan Ellis was waved off by the officials on the ice for goalie interference. That call was challenged by the Nashville bench, and overturned after video review. Then the play was challenged by the Tampa Bay bench for being offsides. That review was ruled inconclusive so the goal stood, with assistance originally credited to Colin Wilson and Roman Josi, but later the secondary was changed to Viktor Arvidsson.
At any rate, after two periods, it was 4-1 Nashville, with Vasilevskiy having surrendered four goals on 11 shots.
“He’s a young goalie. Eventually, he’s going to be a starting goalie in this league. You’re not going to have you’re A-game every single night. Nobody does. Under certain situations like this, Hall of Fame goaltenders have all gone through this. It’s how are you going to be the next game? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for the next game. That’s all you can do. Tyler Johnson doesn’t have his A-game every single night. Ondrej Palat, go down the list, everybody doesn’t have their A-game every single night. I felt for him tonight, but, in saying that, we only scored one goal. So, regardless of how he did, it would have still been tough to win just getting one.” - Cooper
In the third period, Vasilevskiy was pulled for an extra skater with seven six minutes remaining. The Predators picked up the easy empty netter with Sissons scoring from Calle Jarnkrok.
Vasilevskiy came back in and Sissons completed the hat trick at 17:00, again with help from Jarnkrok. A single yellow cap eventually made its way to the ice in response.
This marks the end of the Lightning’s season-long five-game homestand. They’ll be in action again on Saturday when they travel to Philadelphia to face the Flyers.