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Burns: 3 things from a loss to end the road trip

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 3-1 loss to the Predators

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered Nashville with a chance to accomplish something no other Lightning team had ever come close to.

After winning the first four games on their road trip, the Bolts could sweep a five-game road trip for the first time in franchise history with a win over the Predators.

Unfortunately, the grind of playing five days in eight days away from AMALIE Arena was too much for the Lightning to overcome and they fell 3-1 to the Nashville Predators. 

The Bolts fell behind 1-0 for the first time on the road trip and saw that deficit extend to three when P.K. Subban notched a pair of goals within a 2:40 span midway through the second period.

Tyler Johnson scored his seventh goal of the season with 50 seconds to go to extend his point streak to four games, tying a Lightning season high, and get the Bolts on the board, but Johnson's goal came too late.

Tampa Bay comes home starting Wednesday versus Philadelphia having grabbed eight of a possible 10 points on the road.

But why did the Bolts came up short in their historic bid Monday night? We'll take a closer look in 3 Things from Music City.

Video: Game Recap: Lightning 1, Nashville 31. ONE AND DONE

Too often against Nashville, the Lightning were only able to get one shot, if any, against Predators goalie Pekka Rinne whenever they entered the offensive zone.

Nashville did a stellar job blocking shots and disrupting passes and keeping the Lightning from getting good looks at goal. Anytime the Bolts got a shot off on Rinne, the veteran netminder was able to steer it aside and the Predators defense quickly cleaned up any potential mess before the Lightning could pounce on a rebound.

The sustained pressure just wasn't there for Tampa Bay on Monday night.

"It's tough to score when you're not generating too much," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "We just looked like a tired group, and we've got to regroup because that was a winnable hockey game for us and we let it slip. We've got to regroup for Wednesday."

Tampa Bay had just 15 shots through 40 minutes and 25 total after a late push to get back in the game. When the Lightning were finally able to get a good scoring opportunity, they were unable to convert, like when Jonathan Drouin had a wide-open net on the back post but saw the pass skip over his stick.

"It was just one of those games," Cooper said.

Video: Cooper on loss to Predators2. PREDS PICK APART BOLTS PK

The Lightning ranked ninth in the league on the penalty kill going into the Nashville game, but the Predators sixth-ranked power play was able to get the Bolts' PK out of position and take advantage of the open space.

Nashville accomplished this feat by carrying the puck deep into the offensive zone, forcing multiple penalty killers to move toward the puck and pull apart the Bolts' coverage.

P.K. Subban's first goal, which came 1:36 into the game's first penalty, was a perfect example. Mike Ribeiro was able to skate with the puck unimpeded into the Bolts zone and continue on down into the left circle. Ribeiro drew two penalty killers his way, leaving the rest of the zone open. Ribeiro slung the puck across the ice to the top of the right circle for Ryan Ellis, and Ellis put the puck right in Subban's wheelhouse as he lined up a one-timer for Nashville's second goal.

The Lightning penalty kill went 5-for-5 on Saturday against Philadelphia, which owned the second-best power play in the league. But on Monday, the Bolts weren't able to slow down the Predators zone penetration, and it led to all kinds of openings for the Preds to exploit.

Seconds after going up 2-0, the Predators got another power play, and although they didn't score, Subban netted his second goal of the game a few moments after it expired to put the game out of reach.

"We need the penalty kill there," Cooper said. "You take those back-to-back penalties, even the second one, they scored right after the guy got out. That hurts a little bit."

Video: TBL Reap: Bolts offense can't get going in 3-1 loss3. THE ALL-IMPORTANT FIRST GOAL

Before starting their road trip, the Lightning had led after the first period just three times in 15 games.

Over the first four games of the trip, however, the Bolts were able to score the opening goal each time and head to the locker room for the first intermission with a lead.

Not coincidentally, the Lightning won all four games. In fact, they've won all seven games this season when up after the first period.

Against Nashville when they needed it most, though, the Lightning weren't able to score the opening goal and were forced to play from behind all night.

For a tired team skating its fifth road game in eight days, the prospect of rallying from a deficit just wasn't going to happen.

"We needed to get the lead, and that was it," Cooper said. "We didn't get it. We kicked the first one into our own net, so right then we're chasing a little bit."

With Pekka Rinne - 5-1-2 in November entering Monday -- at the top of his game, rallying against the Preds proved to be too daunting a task for the Bolts.

"We had a couple early chances to score. We didn't," Cooper said. "Rinne was on his game, and after that, they skated. It just felt like we were chasing the whole time, so that was it."

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