NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Roman Josi had a goal and an assist in Nashville’s three-goal first period as the Predators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2 Tuesday night for their fifth win in six games.
Josi also had an assist in the third. Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals and an assist, Rocco Grimaldi added a goal and an assist, and Tanner Jeannot and Mikael Granlund also scored. Ryan Johansen and Rem Pitclick each had two assists with Pitlick’s the first points of his career.
“It’s a big win for us against a really good team,” Josi said.
Juuse Saros made 21 saves and improved to 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts. Nashville salvaged a 2-6 mark in the season series and kept control of fourth in the Central Division. The Predators are 13-3 over their past 16 games, though coach John Hynes doesn’t want them getting too concerned about winning or losing right now.
“You have to have more of a playoff mentality at this point in the season,” Hynes said.
Brayden Point had a power-play goal and Yanni Gourde also scored for Tampa Bay.
The Lightning won the first three games in Nashville this season by a combined 13-2 score. Tampa Bay came in tied for first in the NHL with Toronto and Colorado with 28 wins, but the loss slipped the Lightning to second with Florida having a game in hand in the Central.
“We didn’t even win battles tonight,” Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “We left our goalie out to dry.”
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s 5-0 against Nashville this season, watched from the bench. Curtis McElhinney gave up three goals on the first five shots he faced. The goalie even drew a penalty when he tossed his stick to trip Yakov Trenin midway through the period.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the issue was how the team played in front of McElhinney.
“You could bring back Dominik Hasek or Marty Brodeur or Patrick Roy,” Cooper said. “Nobody’s stopping the chances we gave up tonight. And so that was the tough part for me is we left our guy out to dry, and I think that’s what the guys are a little down about.”
It might’ve been four if Mattias Ekholm hadn’t hit the post at 3:50. Then Sissons put a wrister from the left circle past McElhinney stickside at 6:38. Josi followed at 8:31 with a wrister from the right circle for a 2-0 lead.
Saros made a pad save on Mathieu Joseph’s short-handed try after a Tampa Bay takeaway.
Johansen found Arvidsson with a cross-ice pass, and he beat McElhinney with a wrister at 13:50.
Tampa Bay got on the board when Point deflected Victor Hedman’s slap shot from the high slot 41 seconds into the second. The Lightning took the first seven shots in the period until Johansen took a shot, and Grimaldi tapped in a backhander for a 4-1 lead at 8:09 of the second. It was Grimaldi’s first goal since March 27.
The Predators made it 5-1 midway through the third when Josi found a streaking Arvidsson with a stretch pass, and he skated up the slot to finish the breakaway with his 10th goal this season.
“He was pretty open,” Josi said of Arvidsson.
The Lightning answered back 89 seconds later when Gourde got his 15th. But Jeannot tapped in a shot by Trenin with 5:26 left for his first NHL goal in his third career game, and Granlund finished the scoring inside the final two minutes.
The Predators improved to 11-0-0 when leading after two periods. The Lightning (21-0-0) are the only other NHL team undefeated when taking a lead into the third period.
David Savard made his debut with Tampa Bay after the Lightning traded for the defenseman Saturday afternoon. Savard joined the Lightning on Sunday night and practiced with them Monday. He skated with Hedman on the top defense pairing.
McDonagh played his 700th career NHL game and became the 39th active NHL defenseman to reach that mark. He now has played 184 games with Tampa Bay and 516 for the New York Rangers.
Pro golfers Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, fresh off the Masters, took in the game from a suite.
The Lightning return home for a six-game home stand starting Thursday night with a two-game set against Florida. With 14 games left, Tampa Bay has only five away from home the rest of this season.
The Predators visit Carolina on Thursday night for the first of a two-game set with the Hurricanes.
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