A shortage of offense and an apparent forgetfulness of Tampa Bay's lethality lead to the Predators' 4-1 loss in their Reverse Retro jersey debut on Monday night.
Last night marked second straight game wherein the Preds finished having been outshot by over 10 shots, recording a low 24 and 25 shots, respectively, on Friday and Monday nights. Slow starts are thoroughly plaguing the Preds; 12 games into their 2021 season, they have scored just six first period goals. Opponents are gaining early advantages, and the Preds have been largely unsuccessful at catching up.
The Preds and Lightning split their number of total high-danger chances at eight apiece, but the most significant disparity came at even-strength play. With five aside on both ends of the ice, the Preds managed to put just 12 shots on net while allowing the Lightning to zip 27 past them on defense.
Tampa's Anthony Cirelli scored twice last night, pushing past Steven Stamkos (3G, 1A), Brayden Point (1G, 3A), and Mikhail Sergachev (4A) to make him the Preds' primary dismantler so far this season, recording five points in the teams' three matchups.
Curtis McElhinney made his season debut for the Lightning last night, saving 23 of Nashville's 24 shots for a .958 save percentage. Despite finishing with the loss, Pekka Rinne earned the third star of the game by saving 33 of Tampa's 35 shots for a .943 save percentage.
Dante Fabbro scored his first goal in one year and two days- Feb. 6, 2020- which turned out to be the Preds' lone goal of the night. Nashville's first forward and defensive lines suffered the most last night; Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Viktor Arvidsson all finished with -3 on-ice ratings and a collective 10 shots- half of those coming from Forsberg. It was announced before the game that Ryan Johansen's injury status is week-to-week, and though he hasn't tallied a goal of his own yet this year, it's clear that the center's skill is missed on the forecheck.
The Preds and Bolts face each other again tonight, with the home team looking to avoid another three-game losing skid and the visiting team looking to win a sixth straight game. Luke Kunin is expected to return to the lineup after missing four games since Jan. 30.