In terms of flow of play, this game was not as lopsided as the final score might indicate. The Lightning defended much better against Nashville than they did in Thursday's loss to Winnipeg. In shot attempts, the Lightning held an advantage of 69-35. As Jon Cooper pointed out afterwards, a number of the Nashville goals come off shots that had "eyes". He also noted that the Predators actually blocked more Lightning shots (24) than they had in shots on goal (19).
What the Predators did very well in this game - in addition to converting on a high percentage of their shots and chances - was defend. Only 28 of those 69 Lightning attempts went on net and the Bolts were unable to generate many scoring chances throughout the night.
But beyond whether or not the game wasn't as tilted as the score makes it seem, there were familiar and disturbing trends that continued for the Lightning. They allowed the first goal - and it came early in the first period. The Lightning have now yielded the opening goal in 26 of their first 40 games. Not coincidentally, because many of these opening goals have come early in games, they have a minus nine goal differential in the first period. Also, for the sixth time in the last seven contests, the Lightning have fallen behind by at least two goals. While they rallied to win two of those games - and picked up a point with an OT loss in one of the others - spotting the opposition a multi-goal lead is not a formula for success. Lastly, the Lightning are allowing the other team to make big plays at key times. In this contest, it was Mike Fisher's power play goal at 2:25 of the first on a play in which he got "lost" at the back post. That goal put the Lightning in another early hole. And it was Colton Sissons' second period tally, a stoppable shot for Andrei Vasilevskiy. That goal reestablished a two-goal lead for the Preds after Tyler Johnson had cut the deficit to 2-1.
These are trends that the Lightning must simply reverse if they hope to enjoy a successful second half of the season. They'll look for a strong start on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Sissons' first goal, giving Nashville a 3-1 lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Mike Fisher - Predators. Goal and assist.
- Ryan Johansen - Predators. Two assists
- Colton Sissons - Predators. Hat Trick.