The Bolts rolled into Music City on top of the Central Division. The host Nashville Predators find themselves near the basement. After 9 straight starts Andrei Vasilevskiy got the night off being the lone scratch and opening up for Curtis Mchelleny to make the start and see action of any kind almost a year ago March 8 2020 a 5-4 shoot out loss against Detroit. Tampa is absolutely on a roll as of recent. The original Champa bay team looked to steal the Thunder of the Predators on the night they debut their reverse retro jerseys.
Just over two minutes into the contest Luke Schenn dropped the gloves and had a spirted bout with undrafted second year Nashville Forward Mathieu Olivier. Both players trying to get their respective Squads fired up & into the game early. Anthony Cirelli took a pass from Killorn and shot a knuckler into the net from a sharp angle. A goal Predators long time netminder Pekka Rinne would like to have back, leaking right over his shoulder. Tampa Bay already put up 9 shots in the first ten minutes bombarding the Nashville defense core from the get go. Tampa looked dialed in through out the first frame. Tampa out shot Nashville 17-6
Rinne and McElhinney stayed excellent and both teams played a very even and physical game for the first half of the period. Tampa broke through on the power play with Anthony Cirelli putting his team ahead with a little breathing room with his 4th goal of the season and second goal of the game 13 minutes into the second period. The Bolts lead 2-0. The Lightning powerplay has been absolutely electric this season. The balance of the game was beginning to tip in favor of the Lightning after mostly a low shot and low scoring 2nd period. Curtis McLhinney made a marvelous stop during a late powerplay by the Predators with a little help from Ryan McDonagh. The Predators best chance of the night was a very close call that was dangerously close to crossing the goal line to cut the lead in half. Nashville handed a costly penalty to Tampa in the form of a interference call against Nashville forward Calle Jarnkrok prematurely ending their powerplay. Tampa will take 1:23 on the man advantage into the 3rd. The bolts once again were 20 minutes from another win. The Offensive Dominance Outshooting their division rivals 27-12 through two periods.
The Lightning had a parade to the Penalty box in the first half of the 3rd. having to stay on the penalty kill for a majority of the period. on powerplay number 4 for the Predators on the night they finally converted Dante Fabbro scoring on the penalty to the games only other goal scorer Anthony Cirelli Blowing a shot past a heavily screened McElhinney, cutting the lead in half 2-1. The Predators have had a number of late game comebacks this year. With 7:43 Tampa followed up the allowed goal with a strong shift to shake off the jitters after really their first mistake of the night. The Lightning looked passive prior to the goal and seemed to wake up following the failed penalty kill. Nashville had more shots and possession time in the 3rd period than the first two periods combined. The Predators had new life. But time was running out for it to matter. The Lightning responded to a soft 15 minutes of the 3rd with a strong finish. Blake Coleman scored on the empty net to distance Tampa and inevitably Sealing it for Tampa. The Predators would not quit. McElhinney made another jaw dropping save in his 22 save win on a mad goal mouth scramble at the very end of the game, Stamkos found the puck on his stick with 2 seconds remaining and did what he does best. Score. His 5th goal of the season and Tampa’s second empty net goal of the game. The Bolts finished strong beating the Nashville Predators 4-2
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers smothered a very good opponent and played a full 60 minutes as the Lightning’s neighbors captured the Super Bowl last night. The Lightning are a very skilled team and have developed a habit of sitting back in the later parts of games this season. They may be able to stumble through the final period in the regular season but will need to take a page out of their Super bowl winning neighbors and play their game from start to finish to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. The Lightning won’t get any rest, getting right back into it with The Predators Tomorrow night as part two of their back to back series in Nashville.