Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning falls to Predators

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NASHVILLE — Well, that was ugly.

But more than that, coach Jon Cooper said of the Lightning's 3-2 loss to the Predators on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, "It was disgracefully embarrassing."

It was at least for the final two periods, as Tampa Bay, with a 2-0 first-period lead on a pair of goals by captain Marty St. Louis, seemed to lose its will to compete.

The Lightning was outshot 29-16 with just seven shots the last two periods. As St. Louis said, "Our battle level was very low."

Most problematic, though, was allowing three power-play goals, two in 71 seconds in the second period and Patric Hornqvist's winner with 6:04 left in the third off a scramble in front of the net.

"You can't give up three goals on the power play," goaltender Ben Bishop said. "It's unacceptable."

That's not quite the way the Lightning (33-21-5) wanted to come out of the Olympic break and start a season-closing stretch in which it plays 24 games in 46 days.

On a 2-5-0 streak and a 1-4-0 road streak, it fell to third in the tightly contested Atlantic Division.

"I love this team. We have a special group of guys," Cooper said. "We just, really, I'm a little bit shocked we did that."

Especially after St. Louis scored goals 26 and 27 of his season, one off a rebound of Ondrej Palat's backhand post shot and one on the power play for a 2-0 lead 9:13 into the game.

But Matt Cullen made it 2-1 with 7:55 left in the second period after Tampa Bay was called for too many men on the ice.

Roman Josi's scorching slap shot through a screen made it 2-2 with 6:44 left with Vlad Namestnikov in the penalty box on what seemed a phantom hooking call.

Hornqvist scored after Ryan Malone was called for hooking in the offensive zone, which nullified the last 10 seconds of a power play.

"The goalie is supposed to be your best penalty killer, so I'll take the blame for this," Bishop said. "I have to stop one of them."

Actually, he had little chance on any of the goals.

"On a couple of those penalty kills, we were guessing instead of being on the right side of the pucks," Cooper said. "We were trying to leave the zone early."

Add generally terrible passing, a season-low-tying 16 shots and what St. Louis called "horrendous" five-on-five play with little cycling of the puck to compensate for Nashville clogging passing lanes, and you have a team with little chance to win.

"That," Cooper said, "was a tough one to swallow."

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First Period1, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 26 (Palat), 5:26. 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 27 (Kucherov, Purcell), 9:13 (pp). PenaltiesEllis, Nas (tripping), 8:43; Brown, TB (roughing), 10:29; Smith, Nas (delay of game), 19:26.

Second Period3, Nashville, Cullen 6 (Ellis, Smith), 12:05 (pp). 4, Nashville, Josi 9 (Weber), 13:16 (pp). PenaltiesBrewer, TB (holding), 2:46; Stalberg, Nas (tripping), 2:46; Crombeen, TB, major (fighting), 9:22; Clune, Nas, major (fighting), 9:22; Tampa Bay bench, served by Kucherov (too many men), 10:31; Namestnikov, TB (hooking), 12:44.

Third Period5, Nashville, Hornqvist 11 (Fisher, Weber), 13:56 (pp). PenaltiesGaustad, Nas (tripping), 10:09; Malone, TB (hooking), 11:59.

Shots on GoalTampa Bay 9-4-3—16. Nashville 8-13-8—29. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 3; Nashville 3 of 4. GoaliesTampa Bay, Bishop 28-9-4 (29 shots-26 saves). Nashville, Hutton 14-9-4 (16-14). A17,113 (17,113). T2:23. Referees—Marc Joannette, Greg Kimmerly. LinesmenScott Driscoll, Shane Heyer.

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