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Late goal sinks Lightning in 4-3 loss at Nashville

Ben Bishop stops 22 shots in first exhibition start, but the Preds halt Tampa Bay's two-game win streak.

by Bryan Burns /

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tampa Bay Lightning nearly completed a three-games-in-three-days sweep on Saturday, but fell 4-3 in Nashville following Cody Bass' two-on-one conversion for the Predators with 4:23 to go in regulation for the game-winner.

The Lightning defeated Florida on Thursday and won in Carolina on Friday. The Bolts rallied from a 3-1 deficit in Nashville on Saturday but couldn't find the go-ahead goal to finish the three-day stretch undefeated.

The Bolts fell to 2-2-0 in the preseason following the loss in Nashville.

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop made his preseason debut and stopped 22-of-26 shots in the loss. Bishop played the entire game in net for the Bolts.

"I felt good," Bishop said. "The body felt good. It was nice to play the full game, get that kind of under your belt. It had been a while since I played a full game like that. I felt pretty good besides a couple power plays."

Nikita Nesterov scored the Lightning's first power-play goal of the preseason, ripping a slap shot from the left point past Nashville goalie Marek Mazanec at 5:54 of the first period to put the Bolts up 1-0. Nesterov's goal was set up by assists from Valtteri Filppula and Jonathan Drouin, each playing their first game of the preseason.

"That's something (Nesterov) is slowly, kind of a role he's been with us, and we're going to look for more of that in the future, but it was nice for the power play to get on the board," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "We had good structure net front, and a heck of a shot by Nesty. I thought he had another strong game."
Tampa Bay's penalty kill had been a point of pride entering Saturday's game, thwarting 17-of-18 opponent power plays through three games, but Nashville gave the special teams unit plenty to work on during the next few days, going 3-for-8 with the man-advantage. The Predators scored three-consecutive goals on the power play to take a 3-1 lead. Mike Fisher got in alone on Bishop to convert at 19:25 of the first period to tie the game 1-1.

P.K. Subban, making his debut with Nashville since the blockbuster trade that saw the former Montreal superstar swap places with Shea Weber, unleashed a slap shot that was deflected past Bishop nearly six minutes into the second period to give the Predators their first lead. Later in the second, Mike Ribeiro converted five seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage for Nashville when Nesterov's attempted clear was knocked down by Filip Forsberg, who then passed to a wide-open Riberio on the post to push the Predators' lead to 3-1.

The Lightning stopped the bleeding less than three minutes later on Filppula's first goal of the preseason. Bishop spotted the Finnish forward streaking uncovered down the middle of the ice, and Bishop's stretch pass hit Filppula in stride, Filppula converting with a backhander at the net to cut Nashville's lead to 3-2.

Cory Conacher tied the game 3-3 at 3:07 of the third period, pouncing on a turnover in the Predators' defensive zone and firing a wrist shot into the goal from the slot.

"That was a Cory Conacher goal tonight, just an instinctive shot in the slot, that's what that kid can do," Cooper said. "When he's shooting pucks, a lot of them have eyes for him, and that was nice to see."

Both teams finished with 26 shots.

The Lightning will have a few days off before heading to Sunrise to take on the Florida Panthers in preseason game No. 5 on Thursday.

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