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Burns: 3 Things we learned from an OT win in Music City

Bryan Burns on the Lightning's quick responses, shots from the point and Kucherov's game-winner

by Bryan Burns /

When Kyle Turris scored on a power play with 10:09 remaining in regulation to level the game 2-2 between the Lightning and Predators in Nashville, Tampa Bay fans had to be thinking "Here we go again."

The Lightning faithful had seen this scenario before, namely in a 4-3 overtime loss two games earlier in Washington, D.C. when the Bolts squandered a 3-1 lead heading into the third period, gave up the game-tying goal on the power play and were defeated in extra time.

The Bolts, however, were determined not to let past failures repeat.

The Lightning pressured Pekka Rinne over the final minutes of regulation, the Nashville goalie making several brilliant saves to keep the game tied, and finally found a way past Rinne in overtime, Steven Stamkos sending a pass onto the blade of a charging Nikita Kucherov at the side of the net and Kucherov tapping in the game-winner to end Tampa Bay's season-long three-game losing skid.

The Lightning also won in Nashville for just the second time since the 2008-09 season.

Tampa Bay earned one of its biggest victories of the season on Tuesday and avoiding dropping four in a row for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Here are Three Things we learned from the impressive win.

Video: TBL@NSH: Palat finishes one-timer from Kucherov

Tampa Bay's resilience was tested often in the Nashville win.

The Lightning responded positively each time.

After Calle Jarnkrok tied the game 1-1 six minutes into the second period, Ondrej Palat answered :31 seconds later to put the Bolts back in front 2-1, Nikita Kucherov slipping him a pass in the slot and Palat one-timing a shot into the open net vacated by Rinne, who had slid well out of position thinking Kucherov would take the shot.

A couple minutes later, the Lightning were awarded a five-minute major power play when Ryan Johansen was spotted elbowing Brayden Point, the infraction leaving Point's nose pouring blood, most of it ending up on the front of his sweater, which would force Point to the bench to get cleaned up for a couple minutes.

The Lightning failed to do much of anything on the extended power play - Nashville actually registered more shots over the five-minute stretch - handing momentum back to the Predators.

But with the crowd behind them and the Preds pushing for the game-tying goal, the Lightning held firm, making smart plays defensively to limit the amount of quality scoring chances against and Andrei Vasilevskiy knocking away anything that did reach his net.

"We just talked to each other on the bench and made sure that we refocused and got back to doing our jobs on the ice," Ryan McDonagh said about the stretch of the game following the failed power play. "Guys really stuck with it and pulled for one another, and that's a great sign for us."

And after allowing the tying goal to Turris in the third period, having watched this situation lead to defeat previously, the Lightning again proved their mettle by ratcheting up the heat on Nashville's goal and extending that pressure into overtime, where they were eventually able to push home the game-winner.

"We needed to find a way to win this game, at least get some points out of it," McDonagh said. "It's good we got it to overtime. We really wanted two points tonight and it showed in the way we played, maybe not as great as a start just because we spent a lot of time in our zone, but I thought we defended very well tonight and finally we got the job done and that's what's most important."

Video: TBL@NSH: Hedman finds twine with deflected slap shot 

In winning six of eight games starting with a sweep of a back-to-back at the NHL Global Series in Sweden, the Lightning did a fantastic job getting shots on net from their defensemen and working hard net-front to get a tip or a rebound off of those attempts from the point.

But during their three-game losing skid, the Lightning got away from this strategy, and their offense suffered as a result.

In Nashville, the Lightning rediscovered the effectiveness of just getting pucks on net from their defensemen. At just under the eight-minute mark in the game, Victor Hedman uncorked a shot from a few strides inside the blue line. The shot took a deflection off a Nashville stick and ricocheted up and over Rinne, the puck kissing the underside of the crossbar before hitting the back of the net.

Hedman scored his 99th career goal to pass Chris Gratton and move into 13th place among the Lightning's all-time leading goal scorers.

And the Lightning got on the board first, an important step to coming out of a hostile environment with a win.

Tampa Bay never trailed in the game.

"This was a big test for us," Lightning center Anthony Cirelli said. "That's a good team over that. That was a fun game to be a part of. Obviously, there were some ups and downs, but we did a lot of good things. Some things we've still got to clean up, but at the end of the day, it feels good to get two points."

Video: TBL@NSH: Kucherov tips in feed from Stamkos in OT

Steven Stamkos entered Nashville on a mini scoring drought having come up pointless in the last four games he played (he missed three games with a lower-body injury Nov. 23-27) but picked up a pair of assists in the win, his first points since Nov. 16.

Stamkos' second assist was a thing of beauty and sent the Lightning home victorious.

In the 3-on-3 session, Stamkos received a pass from Mikhail Sergachev and carried the puck to the top of the right circle. With his head up, scanning the ice, Stamkos saw Kucherov charging toward the net and sauced a pass right onto Kucherov's tape, avoiding the stick of the Predators' Nick Bonino in the process. All Kucherov had to do was get his stick on the biscuit to redirect it past Rinne at the far post.

"Just got open for Stammer, and he found my stick and I got lucky," Kucherov said.

Kucherov was more than lucky. He fought off Rocco Grimaldi, who was trying to push him behind the net and away from the danger area. Kucherov was able to stay balanced while presenting his stick for Stamkos to find.

Both Stamkos and Kucherov finished with multiple points on the night.

Kucherov extended his season-long point streak to six games and now has four goals in his last six to tie Brayden Point for the Lightning goal lead with 10 overall.

Kucherov has put up multiple points in four of the last six games and has 17 points over his last 11 games.

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