TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos’ goal made him the franchise leader in power-play points, Yanni Gourde scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning remained perfect on home ice with a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat also scored for the Lightning. Stamkos’ goal in the second gave him 301 points on the power play to pass Marty St. Louis for most in team history.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves as Tampa Bay improved to 4-0 at home.
“We knew they were going to push early in the game, we matched up their intensity and we played physical,’’ Gourde said. “That was our key.’’
Juuse Saros finished with 21 saves. Eeli Tolvanen and Mikael Granlund scored for Nashville, which is still seeking a first goal of the season from top centers Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen.
“We need those guys to be a able to produce,’’ Predators head coach John Hynes said. “But they’re working at it and trying to help them figure out ways to put the puck in the net. You can only control what you can control, and right now we’ve got to help them.’’
Tampa Bay raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first period.
Palat notched his team-leading fourth of the season after Stamkos was able to kick the puck over to Palat, who had an easy backhand chance after Saros was taken out of the crease by his own player at 9:13.
Gourde made it 2-0 in transition. Anthony Cirelli quickly gained the zone to find Tyler Johnson across the ice at the right circle for a pass into the path of Gourde for a redirect at 13:59.
Then with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock, Point finished off a give-and-go with Mathieu Joseph to give the Lighting a commanding lead heading to the first intermission.
“Obviously being down 3-0 after the first is not a great start,’’ Nashville defenseman Roman Josi said. “I didn’t think it was as bad as the score was, but they’re a good team. We gave them too many great looks and they capitalized. That’s what happens when you play a team like Tampa.’’
Stamkos made it 4-0 at 7:23 of the second period, firing a wrist shot from the right circle through the legs of Dante Fabbro and over the glove of Saros for his fourth of the season.
“These (records) to be honest you don’t really know until they put it up on the scoreboard during the game and the guys start congratulating you,’’ Stamkos said of the power play mark. “The bigger ones you are obviously more aware of, but that one’s pretty cool. Anytime you are up in the record books with Marty and Vinny (Lecavalier) that means I’ve been here a long time and fortunate to have a lot of success. Hopefully there’s more power play points to come.’’
The Predators scored a pair of goals early in the third to cut the lead in half.
Tolvanen was open in front to take a feed from Erik Haula at 2:53 before Granlund tucked in a loose puck during a scramble in the crease at 5:41.
Gourde scored an empty-net goal with 10 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
BACK IN UNIFORM
Lightning G Curtis McElhinney dressed as the backup to Vasilevskiy, who was making his 33rd consecutive start dating back to last season and including the playoffs, for the first time since Jan. 15. McElhinney spent two weeks on the league’s COVID protocol list before returning to the team on Jan. 30.
NO BORO TIME
Nashville D Mark Borowiecki, who help the Predators create a physical presence in Saturday’s first meeting, was a healthy scratch.
For the first time this season, the Lightning utilized a lineup with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Alex Volkov was a healthy scratch as D Erik Cernak, who missed the previous two games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, returned to the lineup.
Predators: At Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Lightning: Host Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
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