Despite a late, respectable third period pushback by the Predators, they simply couldn't surmount the hole that the Lightning's four-goal spree in the second period dug for them, losing 4-3 in the season series opener with the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions.
For the first time since Dec. 19, 2013, the Preds lost in regulation to the Lightning by a score of 4-3. Tonight also marked the first time in Pekka Rinne's long career that he's recorded a regulation loss to Tampa Bay.
On a lighter note, Mathieu Olivier scored his first NHL goal tonight- a goal that also happens to be the first scored by a Mississippi-born player in league history.
Tonight's game particularly mean and scrappy; the Preds garnered five power play opportunities while the Bolts garnered seven. In a rather pleasant change of pace, however, two of the Preds' three goals came on the PP. They managed to kill five of Tampa Bay's seven total PPO and allowed them only 10 shots on those seven power plays, displaying a marked improvement on special teams.
The Lightning's most significant advantage over the Preds tonight came in their shot spread. The Preds' shots were highly focused on the netfront, failing to challenge Andrei Vasilevskiy from many other locations in the offensive zone. The Lightning, on the other hand, were able to put together a much more even spread in front of Rinne, easily exploiting the gaps the Nashville defense left vulnerable.
Tampa dominated Nashville in the faceoff circle, winning 62 percent of the battles and establishing early possessions that gave them far more forechecking opportunities.
Filip Forsberg notched his first and second assists of the season tonight, leading the team with six shots on net.
Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman lead the Bolts with five shots, coming off the ice with a goal and an assist apiece. Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, and Brayden Point each finished with two assists on the evening. Along with Nashville's Olivier, Cal Foote, the Lightning's 14th overall pick in 2017, scored his first NHL goal tonight.
The Preds' four-game jaunt through Florida will continue on Monday, when they'll get a chance to right tonight's wrongs against the Lightning.