The Predators caught the Lightning at home at the wrong time.
Tampa Bay entered Thursday night’s game with the NHL’s worst road record of 8-14-3. The major catch is that they had won their previous five on the road. The Lightning extended their road win streak to six thanks to Vaclav Prospal’s game-winning goal at 58 seconds of overtime, giving the Lightning a 2-1 victory.
Despite the loss, the Predators picked up one point in the tight Western Conference playoff race. They have earned at least one standings point in 15 of their last 18 games.
Goaltender Dan Ellis was strong all game, but felt he should have controlled Brad Richards’ overtime shot that fell onto Prospal’s stick for the winner.
“It was a fluttering type of shot that I needed to control, he was able to pounce on it before I was,” Ellis said.
Blueliner Greg Zanon defended his netminder.
“It was unfortunate in overtime that they got that lucky one of Ellis’ chest,” he said. “He played a great game for us tonight. He gave us a chance to win, but we didn’t have our best tonight.”
The trio of Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont, and Alexander Radulov teamed up to score the game’s first goal at 12:37 of the first period.
Dumont picked up the puck behind the Tampa net and passed to Arnott, who was stationed on the left half boards. Arnott motioned like he was going to make a return pass to Dumont, but instead slid a backhand pass to Radulov in the left circle. Radulov collected the puck and promptly wired a wrist shot top shelf over Tampa goaltender Johan Holmqvist’s glove.
Nashville’s top line is carrying the team offensively, having scored seven of the team’s last 13 goals.
The goal extended Radulov’s career-high point-scoring streak to eight games. Arnott has points in his last ten games, although the league does not recognize the streak because he missed Saturday’s home game with Phoenix due to a leg injury.
The Predators are jumping on their opponents early in games lately, outscoring them 19-5 in the first periods of their last 17 games.
Unlike Tuesday’s win over Carolina, one goal would not be enough to defeat the Lightning.
The Lightning carried the play in the second period, outshooting the Predators 12-2. One stretch midway through the second saw the Lightning force the Predators to take three consecutive icings, keeping the line of Radek Bonk, Jerred Smithson, and Darcy Hordichuk on the ice for an extended shift.
Tampa’s big line tied the score at 13:09 of the second period on a goal by Richards.
Richards converted off of a rebound of Martin St. Louis’ redirection shot. The rebound was not controlled by Ellis, and Richards pounced on the puck, sending it by a sprawling Ellis and a diving Zanon.
“We let them dominate in that second period,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “We lost all of our pace, flow, execution and alertness.”
Nashville had just nine shots on goal through two periods.
Martin Gelinas had a shorthanded breakaway with just over five minutes remaining in the third period, but was hooked down from behind by Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle in the neutral zone. Despite pleas from the Nashville bench and crowd, Gelinas was not awarded a penalty shot and Boyle was assessed a minor penalty for hooking.