Yanni Gourde scored twice and Steven Stamkos set a franchise mark in power play points as the Tampa Bay Lighting swept their two-game series against the Nashville Predators by winning 5-2 on Monday night. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 25 shots to pick up his fifth win of the season. Stamkos ended up with a goal and an assist.
The Lightning mixed things up a bit as they went to an 11/7 line-up. Alexander Volkov was scratched while Erik Cernak returned to the line-up. Luke Schenn and Cal Foote stayed in the rotation with the rookie as the seventh defenseman.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was back in the net for Tampa Bay while Nashville went with Juuse Saros between the pipes. Saros has claimed the number one spot for the Predators and entered the game with a 3-2 record with a 2.54 GAA and .918 SV%. His career record against the Bolts: 2-0-1, .923 SV% and a 2.27 GAA.
Unlike the last game, Nashville showed up for the first few minutes of this game as Viktor Arvidsson had an early chance that Vasilevskiy knocked aside. However, much like the last game the officials were busy. Two minutes into the game Jarred Tinordi upended Brayden Point and was called for holding. He also managed to inadvertently trip Steven Stamkos at the same time. Impressive.
The power play - not so impressive. They were never able to get set up in the zone and Nashville delighted in batting the puck all the way down the ice repeatedly. Ryan McDonagh did get a chance at the very end when Joseph set him up in the slot but Saros made the save.
Tampa Bay returned the penalty favor when Erik Cernak was whistled for interference as he cleared Matt Duchene out from the front of the net a little too aggressively. The Predators were gracious guests as they too failed to convert with the extra skater.
After the battle of special teams, the Lightning found their game. And their game was transition, fast-skating hockey. Stamkos and Ondrej Palat capitalized on a two-on-one to open the scoring.
Ondrej Palat (Steven Stamkos)
It didn’t happen smoothly. Ryan Ellis blocked the initial pass, but the puck ricocheted off of a couple of skates and a stick. Palat knocked it down with his skate and after Saros made a desperate lunge to cover the puck, the net was left quite vacated and Palat easily swatted it in.
Palat continued to make an impact later in the period when he was tripped up by Roman Josi entering the offensive zone. The second Lightning power play was better than the first. Not that they scored, but they were able to actually set up in the zone and force Nashville to block some shots and Saros to make a save or two.
Just as the penalty expired for Nashville, the Lightning made it 2-0.
Yanni Gourde (Tyler Johnson, Anthony Cirelli)
As both teams prepared to return to even strength, Anthony Cirelli spied Tyler Johnson open along the right side of the ice. He hit Johnson with a cross-ice pass that the veteran forward made a nice move to control with his skate. He quickly fed it to a streaking Yanni Gourde who tapped the centering pass home.
There wasn’t much physical play that indicated the sour mood from Saturday carried over into Monday’s game. Erik Haula did dump Gourde rather vigorously following a net-front scrum, but nothing escalated out it. Both teams were skating pretty well, and seemed focused on generating offense as opposed to carrying out silly acts of vengeance.
Remember how Point and Stamkos had a rocky two-on-one? Well, Brayden Point and Mathieu Joseph worked a two-on-zero to perfection less than a second before the horn sounded.
Brayden Point (Mathieu Joseph, Mikhail Sergachev)
If it hadn’t gone it there would have been a cry of “too many passes!” ringing across social media, but it did go in so it must have been the perfect amount of passes.
The Lightning entered the period up by three goals, but trailing in even strength shot attempts (15-7), scoring chances (9-6), and shots on net (12-6). So they had to clean some things up in their own zone.
Erik Haula continued his habit of knocking Lightning forwards to the ice as he buried Anthony Cirelli behind the Lightning net. The only problem, Cirelli didn’t have the puck. That’s a penalty. While he was down, Cirelli also took a boot to the back of the helmet. Not ideal. The second power play unit had the better run of play as Gourde tipped a pass on net while Johnson had a good look blocked in front of the net.
A few minutes later the Predators committed yet another penalty behind the Lightning net, not really the most ideal place to break the rules, as Nick Cousins tripped Victor Hedman. On the their fourth attempt they finally found pay dirt. And it was the captain - Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn)
With the goal, a simple little wrister that found its home inside the far post, Stamkos became the franchises’ all-time leader in power play points with 301, moving ahead of Marty St. Louis.
With some commotion in front of him (Cernak interfering with Duchene) Vasilevskiy makes a nice save on a tricky shot from Filip Forsberg. Sergachev took a penalty, but probably saved a goal as he cross-checked Arvidsson in front of the net. That left Nashville with a five-on-three power play.
The Lightning killed off both penalties and Sergachev almost atoned for his sins as he emerged from the penalty box and joined the rush. He dragged the puck around a defenseman and snapped off a shot that had Saros looking behind him. Sadly, the puck was not in the net, but trapped in the goalies big ol’ sweater.
At even strength the Predators had some chances with the best coming from Matt Duchene. He had a really good look in front of the net as he was left alone but he lifted the puck over the crossbar. At the very end of the period Rocco Grimaldi let a big shot go, it was blunted by a defending member of the Lighting, but Vasilevskiy, having committed to stopping the blast had to stretch to his upmost to stop it from trickling in.
The Lightning did a much better job of limiting the chances Nashville had that period as they held them to only two high danger chances at even strength (as compared to six in the first period).
Early in the period, Eeli Tolvanen ripped a shot past Vasilevskiy to put the Predators on the board. There wasn’t much the goaltender could do on the play and the Lightning had a stretch of not-very-interested play leading up to the goal. Gourde tried to fire the puck high around the boards behind the net, but Haula cut it off and fed it to Tolvanen in front of the net.
Eeli Tolvanen (Erik Haula)
The Gourde line generated some offense on their next shift as they won a few puck battles in the Nashville zone and had the Preds scrambling a bit. A goal would have been nice, but it wasn’t too be.
Nashville struck again as they controlled the puck in the Lightning zone and Mikhail Granlund found a loose puck in the crease and slid it under Vasilevskiy who was flat on his back. With over thirteen minutes left in the game it was starting to feel a little too reminiscent of Saturday’s game.
Mikhael Granlund (Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi)
The Lightning desperately needed some possession time with the puck and Brayden Point provided that. The top line weaved around the Predators zone with Point in particular making some nifty moves. They caught Nashville puck-watching a bit and Stamkos set up Palat from a dangerous spot, but Saros stopped the quick shot. A goal there would have deflated the Nashville comeback.
That started a nice run of play for the Bolts as they controlled the puck for the next three shifts as they generated a lot of shots from the point and were first on loose pucks to maintain possession. Following the Granlund goal, Nashville went almost seven minutes without putting another shot on net.
Palat and Point had a chance to salt the game away as Palat created a turnover in the neutral zone. Ryan Ellis made a nice play to break up the two-on-one and Saros scrambled to stop Palat’s shot in front of the net.
With the Nashville net empty the Lightning played some of their tightest defense of the night. They were aggressive at their blue line, as they disrupted several entry passes. Nashville did have one golden chance following an offensive zone draw that they won. Ellis drove a shot through a crowd, but Vasilevskiy snagged it out of the air.
Yanni Gourde finally finished things off as he buried an empty net shot after another failed entry attempt by Nashville. Time ticked off the clock and the Lightning won by a final of 5-2.