The Tampa Bay Lightning earned their first win of the preseason following a 5-1 drubbing of the Nashville Predators in Nashville.
After dropping their first two preseason games by a combined 10-2 score, the Lightning's effort in Nashville was closer to what Bolts fans have come to expect. Adam Erne scored the first two goals for the Lightning, including what would prove to be the game-winner at 9:06 of the first period, and Louis Domingue made 38 saves on 39 shots to pick up where he left off following a successful 2017-18 campaign backing up Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning, which led 3-0 after the first period, also got goals from Boris Katchouk - his second of the preseason - Andy Andreoff and Dominik Masin.
Nashville scored its lone goal on a 5-on-3 power play midway through the second period, making the score 3-1. Andreoff answered :51 seconds later to push the Lightning lead back to three goals, and the Bolts were never threatened the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay will host the Preds Saturday, completing the home-and-home preseason series.
But before peeking ahead, let's look back at how the Lightning were able to get into the win column for the first time this preseason.
1. PLAYING WITH A LEAD
When Adam Erne scored the first of his two goals 7:18 into the first period in Nashville, the Tampa Bay Lightning held a lead for the first time this preseason.
The Bolts felt behind 3-0 in both home and road losses to Carolina and struggled to make up the difference. In Nashville, it was the Lightning building a three-goal lead by the end of the first period and then protecting it over the final two periods.
Erne tallied his second goal of the night 1:48 after his first, and Boris Katchouk extended the Lightning lead just :18 seconds following Erne's goal to put the Bolts up 3-0 before 10 minutes had elapsed from the clock.
The Lightning were the NHL's top scoring team in 2017-18 but had netted just one goal in each of their first two preseason games.
Safe to say, the brief scoring drought is over after eclipsing that total in the first period in Nashville.
And it's largely due to the Lightning getting back to basics. Both Tampa Bay's second and third goals were a result of putting pucks on net, creating a scramble in front and capitalizing on the rebound to beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who played the first two periods before giving way to Troy Grosenick to start the third. Nothing fancy, just hard work that paid off in goals and, eventually, a much-needed win.
2. DOMINGUE DOING HIS THING
Louis Domingue was a revelation for the Lightning in 2017-18.
And judging by his first preseason effort Friday night in Nashville, Lightning fans can expect more of the same this season.
Domingue came to the Lightning organization in November in a trade with Arizona. After spending time with the Bolts' AHL affiliate in Syracuse, Domingue was called up to Tampa Bay following an injury to backup goalie Peter Budaj.
Domingue immediately made an impact and entrenched himself as the No. 2 goalie for the remainder of the season, winning seven of his 11 starts. His play earned him a two-year contract extension in the offseason, and Domingue set out Friday to prove that was a wise investment.
Domingue stopped 38 of Nashville's 39 shots and made several spectacular point-blank saves. Buoyed by a three-goal lead in the first period, Domingue was able to shut down a veteran-laden Nashville attack the rest of the way, save for Josi's two-man advantage goal midway through the second period.
Nashville had a chance to cut into the lead further and make more of a game of it, but Domingue was there each time to bail out the Bolts.
The Lightning feel as confident in their goaltending tandem as any team in the NHL. Performances like the one Domingue gave in Nashville Friday night are why.
3. HOWE ABOUT THAT
Andy Andreoff was in and out of the lineup for Los Angeles last season, playing 45 games and recording nine points.
But he may have earned himself more ice time with the Lightning after three-straight solid performances to open the preseason.
Andreoff came over to the Lightning in the offseason trade that sent Peter Budaj to the Kings. With Chris Kunitz not receiving a contract offer from the Lightning this summer, Andreoff seems like a natural to fill Kunitz's left wing spot on the fourth line.
Friday, Andreoff made a strong case for that role. He scored his first goal of the preseason midway through the second period to answer a goal from the Predators. He assisted on Boris Katchouk's first period tally. And he dropped the gloves with Craig Smith in the third period to complete the preseason. Gordie Howe hat trick.
Andreoff has provided a little bit of everything in his three games with the Lightning. He's given lots of energy on each one of his shifts. He's proven adept at killing penalties. He's willing to stick up for teammates, which led to his fight with Smith. And you can often see him all over the ice whether it's in a game or training camp scrimmage or a drill during practice.
"I'm just trying to do everything possible to make this team," Andreoff told Lightning radio announcer Dave Mishkin following the win in Nashville.
Andreoff has settled in nicely with his new squad. The Lightning have put him in the lineup for all three of their preseason games so far to one, get a long look at him and two, to give the winger more time to acclimate to the team's systems.
So far, the results have been encouraging, and his move to Tampa Bay in the offseason might be the kind of under-the-radar signing that helps the Lightning get over the hump.