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Neal scores twice, Predators top Lightning in shootout

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Filip Forsberg's shootout goal gave the Nashville Predators a 5-4 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

James Neal scored two goals, and Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne denied all three Tampa Bay shooters in the tiebreaker after he made 25 saves through overtime.

Neal tied the game 4-4 at 14:30 of the third period, one-timing a pass from Forsberg past Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. It was his fifth goal of the season, all coming in the past three games.

"That was a great pass," Neal said. "I thought he did a great job of hunting the puck down before the pass. He was in a race with the [defenseman], wins a big battle, and then passes one over to me. It was a great play."

Forsberg had an assist on each of Neal's goals and has six points in his past five games.

"It's just the way [Neal] is working," Forsberg said. "He's using his body down low. He's a big guy that can really protect the puck and a really good skater, too. Obviously, with the goal sense, he's got a really good shot. I just try to find him as much as I can. Today, I gave him the puck twice, and he put it in the back of the net twice."

Erik Condra gave the Lightning a 4-3 lead at 5:24 of the third, one-timing a pass from Brian Boyle past Rinne for his second goal.

"I thought the guys played hard," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It was a really good road game. We gave ourselves a chance to win that game all the way down to the end, including in overtime. I thought we had the better chances in overtime and the puck didn't go in, and now you're down to the shootout, and who knows after that?"

Rinne made six saves after Condra's goal in the third period and overtime, then made saves against Ryan Callahan, Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov in the shootout to help the Predators win their second straight.

"Really big two points," Rinne said. "It was up and down throughout the game. It was a fun game to play. A little bit frustrating as a goalie -- I don't want to give up four every night -- but it was fun."

Mike Fisher scored with 52.3 seconds remaining in the first period to give the Predators (5-1-0) the game's first lead. Defenseman Shea Weber passed the puck toward the net on the rush, and Fisher battled through traffic and pushed the puck past Bishop for his first goal.

"[Fisher] brings everything," Neal said. "He's great in our own end, and he works so hard. He's physical in the offensive zone. He gets to loose pucks. Overall, I think from Day One everyone just had to work harder, and it's paying off."

The teams combined for five goals in the second period.

The Lightning (4-2-1) tied the game at 3:25 on a Steven Stamkos one-timer from a sharp angle on the power play. It was Stamkos' fifth goal.

Kucherov gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 8:51. Rinne made the save on Kucherov's shot from the slot, but the puck went off the skate of Predators forward Paul Gaustad on the rebound and into the net for Kucherov's second goal.

Weber tied the game at 10:29 on a one-timer from the point, sending Mike Ribeiro's pass by Bishop for his first goal.

"It showed good character," Weber said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game tonight. That's a very good team that's capable of doing a lot of things, and I'm proud of the guys in here. Everybody showed up and put in a good effort."

Callahan gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead at 17:41 on a slap shot from the point. Callahan took the pass from defenseman Victor Hedman and shot it through traffic past Rinne for his third goal.

Hedman, who also had an assist on the Stamkos goal, returned to the lineup after missing one game because of a concussion.

Neal tied the game 3-3 with 1:05 left in the second on a one-timer that beat Bishop, who made 29 saves.

"When you're getting the bounces and you're scoring goals, you want the puck," Neal said. "You're in the zone. You're feeling it. I think when you're in that zone and you're feeling good, you want the puck at all times and you feel like everything is going to go in when you shoot it. I don't know how you can keep that around all year, but I'll definitely try to."

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