Tampa Bay Lightning improve record to 28-11-2 (2nd in Central Division)
ABOVE VIDEO: Extended highlights of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nashville Predators.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (Tampa Bay Lightning) – Three goals proved to be more than enough offense for the Lightning on Saturday night in Nashville.
Ross Colton, Erik Cernak and Yanni Gourde scored for Tampa Bay and Andrei Vasilevskiy did the rest, stopping 36 shots as the Bolts shut out the Predators 3-0 at Bridgestone Arena.
The Lightning grabbed the lead at 6:45 of the first period on Colton’s seventh goal of the season. It was Gourde who set up the play, firing a spinning, behind-the-back feed to Colton in the slot. With the puck on his stick, Colton made a move to his backhand and slipped the shot through Pekka Rinne’s five-hole.
Vasilevskiy was Tampa Bay’s best player in the first period. Aside from Colton’s goal, it was a sloppy opening 20 minutes for the Bolts, but Vasilevskiy bailed them out with 18 saves in the period to keep the Preds off the board.
Nashville appeared to tie the game four minutes into the second period when Ryan Ellis’ shot from the point deflected off Ryan McDonagh and past Vasilevskiy. Tampa Bay challenged the play, arguing the Predators’ entry into the zone was offside and a quick review led to the goal being disallowed.
A pair of lucky bounces helped the Lightning double their lead late in the second. From the top of the slot, Cernak fired a shot that appeared to be going wide but was brought back on frame and past Rinne after deflecting off two Nashville skaters.
Gourde then iced the win with an empty net goal in the final minute of regulation.
Vasilevskiy was brilliant in net for the Lightning, stopping all 36 shots he faced, including seven saves on three unsuccessful Nashville power plays.
Due to salary cap implications triggered by the trade for David Savard earlier in the evening, Tampa Bay was forced to play Saturday’s game down a man. With Steven Stamkos unable to play due to injury, his exit was the only change Jon Cooper made to his lineup.
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