Yanni Gourde scored the winner in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning came back to defeat the Nashville Predators by a 4-3 final on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result sees Nashville’s five-game win streak come to an end, but still gives the Preds points in seven straight and nine out of a possible 10 points on their five-game home stand.
In a game that went back and forth all night between two of the League’s best, Nashville lost a 3-2 lead late before surrendering the winner in OT.
“I think it was full throttle throughout the entire game,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “They were coming at us getting chances. We were going at them getting chances. At different times in the game, we played better. At different times in the game, they played better. At the end of the day, I think that’s natural for two really good hockey teams.”
“There were times they owned it and I thought there were times we owned it,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “In the end, for me, for us, it’s probably disappointing the way we finished it. We had a lead with three minutes to go and we sit here with only one point.”
The opening period saw Chris Kunitz and the Lightning strike first, but tallies from Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson less than two minutes apart gave Nashville their first lead of the night. Vladislav Namestnikov tied the game for Tampa Bay before the period was out, and after much of the second stanza went scoreless, another power-play marker found its way into the Lighting net.
Preds defenseman P.K. Subban blasted home his 11th of the season for his 35th point of the campaign, good for the club lead in scoring. Furthermore, Subban now has a six-game point streak against Tampa Bay (4g-3a-7pts) dating back to March 16, 2015.
Nashville carried that lead into the third period, but Steven Stamkos tied the game with just over two minutes to play in regulation before Gourde ended it in overtime.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Ellis said. “That’s the best team in the League and good teams find a way to win. But for us personally, I think just execution. At different times in the game and obviously at the end, we just lacked a little execution there and it cost us obviously the tying goal. After that, overtime is 50-50 from there.”
Juuse Saros took the loss in net for the Preds, but still remains unbeaten in regulation in his last nine starts, carrying a 5-0-4 record during that span.
“We have to be better than that in front of [Saros],” Laviolette said of his team. “We can’t fault him on those and just mistakes we made. At that point I thought we had gotten our rhythm and were going a little bit, but when we made a mistake, it was in the net and point-blank chances.”
The loss certainly stings, but closing out a home stand that saw the Preds collect 90 percent of the available points isn’t to be taken lightly, especially at this juncture of the campaign with plenty of competition for the top spot in the division.
“You win a game and seem to not move at all and you lose a game and seem to take three steps backward,” Ellis said. “I think that’s just the point system and it keeps every team really competitive almost until the end.”
The Preds have now earned a point in eight straight and in 11 of their last 12 games against the Lightning.
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game due to illness.
With Nashville’s five-game home stand over, they’ll now head on the road for one game – a date in New Jersey on Thursday night – their final contest before 2018 NHL All-Star Weekend in Tampa Bay.
Pete Weber’s Postgame Report