Lightning Cage Predators, 4-1
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:55 AM
Lecavalier, Malone, Smith Star In Tocchet’s First Win
Slow starts may be a thing of the past for the Lightning, who broke out with three goals in the first period, including two by Captain Vincent Lecavalier
, to set the pace for a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators.
Tampa started early, as Lecavalier netted his first goal of the night and eighth of the season, on a power play, with 4:57 gone in the opening period. Levavalier charged the net, picked up the rebound of a shot by Steven Stamkos
, and put the puck past Predator goalie Dan Ellis
. Ryan Malone
also got credit for an assist on the goal.
Tampa Bay stretched their lead to two goals just 2:08 later when Lecavalier netted his second of the night as he blasted a one-timer from the high slot off a pass from Marty St. Louis, just after St. Louis’s point-blank shot from the front of the crease was stopped. Lecavalier’s two goal period was the first time this season that a Lightning player had tallied two goals in a period. With the assist, St. Louis now has eight points in the last nine games.
took the first of what would be several Lightning penalties on the night, at 8:32, for holding the stick. Nashville was unable to generate much offense with the extra man, as an aggressive Tampa Bay forecheck kept the Predators bottled in their end for much of the power play.
Nashville did get on the scoreboard in the first period when Greg Zanon carried the puck into the Lightning zone, dished a pass to his right to Jordin Tootoo, who unleashed a shot that skipped passed Smith and into the far corner of the net.
The Lightning went right back at it, however, re-establishing a two goal advantage 1:37 seconds later when defenseman Marek Malik stickhandled deep into the Predator zone, cut to the net and flipped the puck back to Mark Recchi, who whipped the puck behind Ellis for his fourth goal of season. Ryan Malone
got his second assist of the night on the play.
As the period ended, Stamkos was back in the box for holding and the Predators still had 39 seconds to go in their third power play of the period.
The tally for the first period showed three penalties killed by the Lightning, three goals scored and ten shots taken. Although they were one shy on the shot board, the Lightning led by two where it counted, on the scoreboard.
“It was nice to play with a lead for a change,” Mike Smith
The Lightning parade to the penalty box continued early in the second period when Evgeny Artyukhin collected the first of his two second stanza penalty calls. Despite pumping five shots on Smith during the extra man advantage, Nashville came up empty.
Tampa Bay widened their lead to three when Vaclav Prospal scored his fourth goal of the season off a scramble in front of the Predator crease. Malone got an assist, his third of the night, in his first game back from an injury that had sidelined him for four games. Stamkos was also credited with an assist, his second point of the night.
The action was end-to end for the remainder of the period, as both teams had their shots and chances, but Mike Smith
, in particular, was tested by the Predators. At the 15 minute mark of the period, the Predators broke into the Lightning zone two-on-one but could not convert the cross ice pass.
A minute later, J.P. Dumont stood in front of Smith and teed off on three shots in rapid fire, none of which eluded the Lightning netminder.
Nashville had their chances to close the gap in the third, especially just after the 10 minute mark, when Mike Smith
made an acrobatic save on a hard shot that Predator forward Vernon Fiddler fired from the left faceoff circle.
Any chance the Predators may have had to get back in the game evaporated when Nashville took two penalties within seconds of each other, at the 11:00 minute mark. The Lightning did not capitalize on the five on three opportunity, but Nashville went right back to the box again.
By the time the Predators were skating at even strength with Tampa Bay, less than four minutes remained to be played and the Lightning, behind another solid effort by Mike Smith
, had put the game away.
Tampa Bay Interim Head Coach Tocchet has been stressing improvements in the penalty kill, and he got what he requested when the Lightning shut down seven Nashville power play opportunities.
completed his evening’s work with 34 saves on 35 shots.
The Bolts improved their record to 6-7-6 and picked up point number four over the last three games.
The convincing win marked the first victory for interim Coach Rick Tocchet since taking over the team.
“Getting that first win as a coach is like scoring your first goal in the NHL,” Tocchet commented. “It’s a good win for everyone and everyone should feel good about themselves.”
And after this effort, it was clear that everyone did.