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Extra Shift: Lightning 4 Nashville Predators 2

In their previous game, the Lightning had one of their shakiest defensive performances of the season, yielding numerous odd-man rushes to the New York Islanders. They knew they would have to play a better defensive game against the Predators – and they did.

I can’t recall more than a couple of odd-man chances for the Predators (and one was in the closing seconds). The Lightning, in the first and third periods, managed the puck extremely well in all three zones, which led to a puck possession and shot advantage. The second period was not a clean one for the Bolts, but more on that in a moment.

The Lightning dominated most of the first period. They were quicker to loose pucks, executed tape-to-tape passes and generated several good scoring chances. Two of those went in the net – Alex Killorn’s wrist shot from the right circle and Marty St. Louis’ power play blast from the high slot. Nashville had eight shots in the period, but four of those came during two unsuccessful power play opportunities and two others immediately after the second chance ended. In other words, in nearly all of the five-on-five play in the first period, the Lighnting held the Preds to only two shots.

The second period was Nashville’s best – and the Lightning’s worst. The Predators forechecked effectively and the Lightning were not as crisp with their puck management. The Bolts were also slow to exit the zone when they had time and space. So Nashville took that time and space away. Nashville, which has a lethal power play, got its goals during two second period chances. (One occurred exactly two minutes after the penalty, so officially it is recorded as even-strength, but for all intents and purposes, it was a PPG.) Despite their struggles in the period, though, the Lightning found a way to answer both Nashville goals. Less than two minutes after Nashville’s first tally, Teddy Purcell scored to make it 3-1. Then, 49 seconds after the Predators made it 3-2, Richard Panik deflected in an Eric Brewer shot.

As a result, the Lightning maintained the two-goal lead after 40 minutes. And Tampa Bay responded with a solid third period. It resembled the first. The Bolts spent most of the period with the puck in the Nashville zone and they fired 15 shots on Marek Mazanec, who relieved Carter Hutton after the Panik goal. Even though they couldn’t add to the lead, they forced the Preds to play most of the final period chasing pucks in their own zone.

It was nice to see Anders Lindback get rewarded for another good game – he got four goals of support to earn his third win of the season. Wonderful for Panik to score such a significant goal. And everyone was smiling for J.P. Cote, back in the NHL for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Cote earned his first NHL point with an assist on Killorn’s goal.

Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito). Panik’s goal, which came 49 seconds after Nashville had cut the Lightning lead to 3-2.

Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito).

Alex Killorn – Lightning. Goal and assist. Team-leading five shots.

Anders Lindback – Lightning. 28 saves to earn victory.

Marek Mazanec – Predators. 19 saves on 19 shots in relief appearance.

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