NASHVILLE — The goal that stands out in the Lightning's 5-3 loss to the Predators on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena included bad luck and bad feelings.
Nashville's Patric Hornqvist scored 7:43 into the second period after one of the referees unintentionally blocked the puck from leaving the defensive zone and Hornqvist knocked over Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon without a call.
The tally gave the Predators a 3-2 lead, halted Tampa Bay's momentum after two late first-period goals had tied the score, and was the catalyst for Nashville's three-goal second that broke the game open. "That third goal really hurt us," coach Guy Boucher said. "Everybody knew our goalie got tripped on that."
"He clipped me from behind the net and tripped me," Garon said. "The referee said he didn't see it. It's frustrating."
That said, the Lightning (4-4-2), which lost a three-game winning streak, played so poorly on defense and Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was so good, with 29 saves, it probably didn't matter.
Four goals were the direct result of Tampa Bay miscues. The fall guy was Garon, who was relieved by Dwayne Roloson with 7:50 left in the second after giving up five goals on 17 shots.
Garon was diplomatic, saying, "A couple more saves and it's a different game." But this stuff is difficult to overcome:
Defenseman Victor Hedman failed to disrupt a pass that resulted in a two-on-one that ended with Sergei Kostitsyn's goal. Mike Fisher made it 2-0 in the first period after Pavel Kubina left him unattended at the side of the net. Steve Downie was outpositioned and outmuscled in front of the net by Nick Spaling, who made it 4-2 with 8:40 left in the second. Fisher made it 5-2 50 seconds later after a turnover by Brett Clark.
"We just didn't play well defensively," Kubina said. "It cost us the game."
Bright spots for Tampa Bay included two goals by Steven Stamkos and a goal and two points for Teddy Purcell. Stamkos' goal with 3:24 left in the first and Purcell's power-play goal with 26.7 seconds left tied the score 2-2.
But then came Hornqvist's goal from in front of the net after the puck stayed in the defensive zone off the back of a referee and his encounter with Garon.
"It was not a lucky goal," Hornqvist said. "I was at the right spot at the right time."
"You've got to overcome," Boucher said. "But what happened after that goal, we started to cheat in our game. We made gap mistakes and gave them some space. It was costly."
First Period—1, Nashville, Kostitsyn 3 (C.Smith, Fisher), 6:25. 2, Nashville, Fisher 1 (Kostitsyn, C.Smith), 14:05. 3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 5 (Purcell, Malone), 16:36. 4, Tampa Bay, Purcell 3 (Connolly, Bergeron), 19:33 (pp). Penalties—Tootoo, Nas (charging), 17:53.
Second Period—5, Nashville, Hornqvist 1 (Halischuk, Geoffrion), 7:43. 6, Nashville, Spaling 1 (Hillen, Blum), 11:20. 7, Nashville, Fisher 2 (Spaling), 12:10. Penalties—Kubina, TB (tripping), :47; Jones, TB (roughing), 12:47; Hillen, Nas (roughing), 12:47.
Third Period—8, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 6 (Bergeron, St. Louis), 17:03. Penalties—Clark, TB (interference), 6:22; Downie, TB (roughing), 10:04; Hornqvist, Nas (tripping), 18:34. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 14-12-6—32. Nashville 9-9-9—27. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 2; Nashville 0 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Garon 3-2-1 (17 shots-12 saves), Roloson (12:10 second, 10-10). Nashville, Rinne 4-4-1 (32-29).