(SportsNetwork.com) – The Nashville Predators hope to continue their recent
surge when they begin a four-game homestand in Tuesday’s showdown against the
Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nashville leads the NHL with 76 points, but the club went through a rough
patch at the end of January. However, the Predators have seemed to put last
month’s 1-2-2 funk behind them by going 4-1-0 to begin February.
The Preds’ only loss this month came against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, who
are Nashville’s closest competition for the best record in the league. The
Ducks recorded a 5-2 triumph at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, but Nashville
has bounced back with consecutive wins over the New York Rangers and Florida
Nashville enters Tuesday’s action with a one-point edge over the Ducks in both
the Western Conference and overall NHL standings. The Predators also are four
points ahead of St. Louis for the Central Division lead. Both the Blues and
Ducks are playing on Tuesday, with St. Louis hosting Arizona and Anaheim
visiting the Florida Panthers.
The Atlantic Division-leading Lightning, meanwhile, have won two of three and
are 7-2-1 over their last 10 games. Tampa is two points ahead of both Detroit
and Montreal for the division lead. The Canadiens play at home against
Philadelphia tonight, while the Red Wings are idle ahead of Wednesday’s game
Nashville rallied for its most recent victory, heading into the third period
down 2-0 to the Panthers before storming back for a 3-2 shootout win.
Filip Forsberg scored the decisive shootout goal after tying the game late in
regulation. Forsberg and Seth Jones both notched power-play markers in the
third period, with the tying goal coming 4:43 before the end of regulation.
“We were just trying to battle,” said Forsberg.
Forsberg has 18 goals this season, tying the franchise rookie record set by
Alexander Radulov in 2006-07
Carter Hutton made 34 saves for the win after spelling No. 1 netminder Pekka
Rinne with the start. Rinne is expected to get the start tonight and he is 2-0
with a 3.50 goals against average over two lifetime outings against Tampa.
Nashville forward Colin Wilson missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury
suffered the day before against the Rangers. He is questionable for
The Predators are kicking off a stretch of four straight at Bridgestone Arena.
They boast a 21-3-1 record on home ice this season and have won 10 of their
last 11 in Music City.
Nashville has claimed four of the last five meetings with the Lightning
overall and Tampa has lost three straight on the road in this series.
Although they sit in first place in the division and at the top of the East
standings with 73 points, the Bolts have not fared well on the road this
Jon Cooper’s club is just 12-11-4 as the guest compared to a stellar 22-5-1
mark at home. However, the Lightning were able to halt a four-game road skid
with a 5-3 win in Dallas on Thursday.
Tampa lost a 4-2 home decision to Los Angeles on Saturday, but followed up
with a 5-3 victory the next day against visiting Anaheim.
The Lightning scored three first-period goals before holding on to beat the
Brian Boyle scored twice to lead Tampa Bay to its 11th win in its last
12 home games. Valtteri Filppula had a goal and two assists, Ryan Callahan had
a goal and an assist, and Steven Stamkos tallied two assists. Nikita Kucherov
scored his 20th goal as well.
Ben Bishop made 25 saves on 28 shots to rebound from Saturday’s loss to the
Kings. Bishop was pulled after the first period after yielding three goals on
nine shots in the loss to L.A.
“He doesn’t make it into the second period last night. For him to come up as
big as he did today for us, it says a lot about the kid,” said Cooper.
Bishop, who boasts a 27-9-3 record this season, is expected to start again