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Lindback leads Lightning past Predators

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- Anders Lindback wouldn't say it how much playing his former team meant, so Tampa Bay Lightning teammate Alex Killorn said it for him.

"I know it was a big game for Lindback," Killorn said." He circled it on the calendar. He played awesome and we're happy to get the win for him."

It was a win with very little suspense; the Lightning jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period and answered each time the Nashville Predators closed the gap on the way to a 4-2 victory Thursday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Lindback stopped 28 shots for his third win of the season, but what was special was that this one came in his first game against the Predators, who traded him to Tampa Bay in June 2012.

"Always nice to get a win," Lindback said. "I know many of those guys. They have a good scouting report on me and I have a good one on them."

Killorn had a goal and an assist in the first period to help the Lightning improve to 13-3-1 at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Richard Panik also scored for Tampa Bay (21-11-3), which has won three in a row.

Craig Smith scored both goals for Nashville (16-16-3), which has dropped back-to-back games after winning three in a row.

Tampa Bay dominated the opening period while jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

Killorn opened the scoring with his eighth of the season at 2:26. He controlled the puck in Nashville's zone and was looking for someone to pass to, but the defense backed off and allowed him to glide into the left circle before beating Carter Hutton. Defenseman Victor Hedman, in his first game back after missing six with a lower-body injury, got one assist. The second assist went to Jean-Philippe Cote, who collected his first NHL point in his first game with the Lightning. Cote, who was recalled by the Lightning from Syracuse of the American Hockey League this week, played in his first NHL game since Feb. 4, 2006, when he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

St. Louis made it 2-0 at 19:06 with a power-play goal, only the third for the Lightning in their past 28 chances. St. Louis was alone in the slot and one-timed a pass from Sami Salo off the stick of Nashville's Mike Fisher and into the net for his 14th goal of the season.

Smith scored twice in the second period, but Tampa Bay answered less than two minutes after each goal.

"They took some momentum away by scoring just after we did," Smith said. "They are a good team, but so are we. They can do some good things and so can we. They came out on top tonight and converted their chances."

Smith got Nashville on the board at 6:36, firing a rebound past Lindback. His second of the game and eighth of the season, at 13:02, came on the power play off a Matt Cullen pass.

But Purcell countered Smith's first goal when he took a cross-ice pass from Valtteri Filppula and scored his eighth of the season at 8:27. Panik's deflection of Eric Brewer's shot came 49 seconds after Smith's second goal and ended the night for Hutton, who allowed four goals on 14 shots. He was replaced by Marek Mazanec, who stopped all 19 shots that he faced.

"I pulled Hutton because he gave up four goals on 14 shots," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "That's just too much."

Tampa Bay came into the game averaging 1.8 goals in Lindback's appearances while scoring more than three goals per game for starter Ben Bishop.

"He has deserved better from us and for us to get four for him and for him to shut the door like he did, he deserved it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Lindback. "He was on today. He's played way better than his record."

With a two-goal lead entering the third period, the Lightning took control of the puck and kept the play in the Nashville zone.

"I felt like we controlled the whole third period," Cooper said. "There were stretches where it seemed like we had the puck for 15 of the 20 minutes. We didn't score a goal but we kept them on their heels the whole time. We didn't sit back. We wanted to go out and win a hockey game and we did that."

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