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Lightning fall to Predators in second preseason game

Tampa Bay’s top players see their first exhibition action, but the Bolts are shut out in Nashville.
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) falls as he chases the puck with Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and defenseman Victor Hedman (77) during the second period of Thursday's game in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) falls as he chases the puck with Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and defenseman Victor Hedman (77) during the second period of Thursday's game in Nashville, Tennessee. [ MARK HUMPHREY | AP ]
Published Sep. 30|Updated Sep. 30

No one remembers the scores to preseason games, and the Lightning are more concerned with getting regular-season ready than winning exhibition contests.

They dropped their second straight game to open the preseason Thursday, falling to the Predators 2-0 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tampa Bay was supposed to play Thursday at Amalie Arena, but after its first two preseason home games were postponed and its training camp was relocated to Nashville due to Hurricane Ian, it has had had to adjust.

After a four-goal loss in their preseason opener Tuesday in Carolina, Thursday’s lineup had more regulars. Still, the Lightning were held scoreless, shut out by goaltender Kevin Lankenin (30 saves).

“We’ll shake off a little bit of rust, but under the circumstances we’ve had in the past week, it was just nice to get into some game action,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters in Nashville.

Tampa Bay has scored just one goal in its first two preseason games, and a physical, tight-checking contest limited open chances. Stamkos had the Lightning’s best chance of the night, taking a backhand, no-look, touch-and-go pass from Nikita Kucherov and sweeping across the front of the net and trying to tuck the puck inside the right post. But his shot hit the post.

Despite it being an exhibition game, the Lightning were heated at times.

Positioning himself in front of the net, forward Corey Perry jostled with Mattias Ekholm on two separate occasions, resulting in nine penalty minutes for each player. Early in the game, Stamkos became agitated with Kiefer Sherwood, leading to some shoving.

“There’s no way to replicate that in practice against your own guys,” Stamkos said of the physicality. “That’s another thing, getting some bumps. ... You don’t get a lot of that in the summer. That is a big part of it.”

Tampa Bay was 0-for-4 on the power play, including a four-minute 5-on-4, in the vaunted top power-play unit’s first preseason action.

“For them to get those kind of reps is great,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I’m not so worried about the puck not going in the net. Were they getting zone time? Were they getting looks? And they were. If you’re going to pick a game for them not to go in, the preseason is the one.”

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