The Nashville Predators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning to complete a two game road sweep of the best team in the West and the East within a 24 hour period.
Anders Lindback put in an impressive performance with 42 saves, while Colin Wilson’s late goal proved to be the game-winner. Twelve different Predators earned points in route to their four goals in what was truly a team effort.
The Predators remain unbeaten in regulation and improved their record to 5-0-3 with the win. At the end of the day the Predators’ 13 points wast the most in the NHL at the end of play on Sunday. The Preds’ last seven games have been decided by a single goal.
The Predators much maligned penalty kill held firm and stopped all four power play chances that the third ranked Lightning had during the game including one important one in the closing minutes of play.
The Lightning struck first at 6:30 in the first period when Pavel Kubina grabbed a puck from Joel Ward at the blue line and fed it to Sean Bergenheim who put a wrister past Anders Lindback to give Tampa a 1-0 lead.
Shea Weber tied the game at 11:54 when he picked up an opposite side rebound off a shot from Francis Bouillon and lifted it into the top of the net on Dan Ellis’ stick side. Cal O’Reilly also picked up an assist.
Sergei Kostitsyn gave the Preds a 2-1 lead at 15:04 when he picked up a loose puck in the blue ice that had gotten through Ellis and put it into the net. Nick Spaling and Jered Smithson were awarded assists on the play.
The period ended with an odd scrum with 1.2 seconds remaining with Patrick Hornqvist getting mugged by four Tampa players around Ellis. Coincidental penalties were given out to Hornqvist and Victor Hedman.
After starting slowly the Preds almost caught up in shots, finishing the period down 13-10 to the Lightning.
At 3:53 in the second period, Ward swatted a rebound into the net from about eight feet in the air and was justifiably waived off. Tampa Bay then had a series of three power plays that the Predators’ penalty kill unit was able to handle despite heavy pressure on Lindback.
Cody Franson scored one of the more amazing goals of the year at 17:55 to give the Predators a 3-1 advantage. Franson was skating down the middle of the ice on a breakaway and took a feed from David Legwand and completely deeked Ellis and gently slid the puck in the net behind the sprawling ex-Predator.
With 28.3 seconds left, Tampa put a puck in the net that was waived off. The Bolts out shot the Preds 16-10 for the period and applied heavy pressure on the Nashville defense. The Corsi was more indicative of the Bolts offense with the Lightning leading 30-14.
Play in the third started with a surprisingly fast pace considering both teams were playing their third game in four nights.
Tampa Bay put heavy pressure on the Preds in the first half of the final period. At 10:15, Steven Stamkos fed Vinny Lecavalier on a breakaway that was stopped by Lindback.
The Predators made a great play at 14:10 to give the Preds a 4-1 lead. The play stared with Wilson on the boards passing to J.P. Dumont who sent the puck on to Mary Erat who then fed it back to Wilson who was able to blow it past Ellis who was still looking at Erat for the shot.
Just one minute later, Martin St. Louis was left alone beside Lindback and roofed the puck into the net to cut the Preds lead back to two. Fifty-seven seconds later, ex-Pred Adam Hall shot from behind and banked the puck off Lindback to cut the lead to one.
Things deteriorated further at 16:53 when the Predators put the Bolts back on the power play when Erat was called for cross-checking Stamkos into the boards behind the net. The Predators survived the Bolts all out assault and held on for the 4-3 victory.
For the game, Tampa outshot the Preds, 45-26. The pace of play for the full sixty minutes was surprising considering that it was the Predators second game in less than 24 hours.
After the game, the Preds headed back to Nashville and will not play again until they meet the St. Louis Blues Thursday night in the last home game for 16 days.