Nashville 2, Tampa Bay 1
Nashville Goal Scorers: Simon Moser (4:48, 2nd) Assists: Clune
Kevin Klein (14:47, 3rd) Assists: Gaustad
The Nashville Predators closed out the home portion of their 2013 preseason slate on Tuesday night with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Predators set a tone early with physical play, a hard forecheck and an offensive attack not seen yet this preseason. Nashville compiled 13 shots on goal, while holding Tampa to just two shots, but the period ended in a scoreless tie. The first period also saw Matt Hendricks record his second preseason fighting major on Bridgestone ice, as he dropped the gloves with Tampa’s B.J. Crombeen.
Camp invitee Simon Moser notched his first goal in North America early in the second period, just seconds after Nashville killed off a hooking penalty to Rich Clune. Clune darted out of the box, caught a loose puck and rushed in on a breakaway against Anders Lindback. Lindback made the initial save, but Clune stayed with the puck, pulling Lindback away from the crease, before he found Moser in the slot for the open net goal. Even with Moser’s early marker, Tampa cranked up the offensive pressure, firing 12 shots on goal, but Nashville clung to the 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.
The Predators responded in the third, posting 13 shots on goal once again, holding Tampa to single digits shots. Nashville held the lead until the 14:47 mark, when defenseman Kevin Klein blasted a shot past Lindback to open the gap on the Lightning. The two-goal lead was short-lived however, as a Steven Stamkos shot pinballed past Marek Mazanec to cut the Nashville lead in half with just 47 seconds before the final buzzer.
The Predators have posted a 2-2-1 record heading into tonight’s game at Washington. Nashville closes out the preseason on Friday against the Islanders.
Three Big Things:
The Entertainment Tax – Head Coach Barry Trotz’s “entertainment tax” line has received decent play this season, but that one-liner became a reality on Tuesday night. The Preds used a tenacious forecheck and physical play to wear on the Lightning. The effort by the Predators may not have showed up in the goals column of the scoreboard right away, but the shots for and the time spent in the offensive zone certainly displayed how taxing it will be to play the Preds this season. Matt Hendricks and Rich Clune brought their normal style of play, while Gabriel Bourque, Mike Fisher and Eric Nystrom were hard on the forecheck all night. The entertainment tax style was also evidenced by players sacrificing their bodies to make plays – Paul Gaustad and Joe Piskula diving to clear pucks and Mattias Ekholm posting up in front of the net to prevent a goal when Pekka Rinne was pulled out of position. The brand of hockey the Predators brought on Tuesday night was exactly what was missing a season ago.
Relief about Rinne – Pekka Rinne continued his recovery from offseason hip surgery on Tuesday night, turning away 14 shots to record his second set of scoreless periods in as many nights. Rinne looked like himself on Tuesday, making save after save without issue, to earn Third Star of the Game honors. Preds fans can expect Rinne to see extended playing time over the final two preseason games as he continues his preparation for the grind of a full season.
Stalberg Out – There was palpable concern from the crowd after forward Viktor Stalberg headed straight to the locker room, holding his right shoulder, after taking a check in the first period. Stalberg did not return on Tuesday, and his status has not been updated, but Head Coach Barry Trotz said in his postgame press conference that he will hold Stalberg out for the remainder of the preseason. Holding the 6-3, 209-pound Swede out of the final two games is simply a precautionary move to ensure one of Nashville’s top offensive threats is ready to go for next week’s season opener.
Head Coach Barry Trotz on how well the team is playing…
I thought we have played really well in the first two periods of our games at home. We have seemed to take our foot off of the gas pedal in the second quarter, which is something we still need to work on. At that point, I thought we played very sloppy and wide-open. We gave up too many chances, but the positive is that our goalie got some work. You saw what he could do, and that aspect is invaluable. I think Pekka still needs to work, but our game is coming together. Pekka is seeing the puck really well and was very solid in the second period for us.
Forward Matt Hendricks on the importance of establishing a role during the pre-season...
I think it’s important. I want to come out and I want the coaches, the organization, and more importantly my teammates to know what I’m here to do. I’ve got their back, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help win a hockey game. I want to be relied on. That’s kind of what the preseason is all about. I think I’ve established myself in this league where I’m not necessarily fighting for a roster spot or fighting for ice time or fighting for an opportunity. When it comes to a roster spot, I don’t think I’m fighting for that, but I’m fighting for my teammates, and I want them to believe in me and trust me. I think that’s the biggest thing about this time of year.
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Anders Lindback on being back in Nashville…
I have a lot of good memories from here. It’s a great organization and I made a lot of good friends here. It was fun to be back and play here, but I’d rather walk away with a win.