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Predators-Lightning Preview @NHLdotcom
Predators-Lightning Preview

GAME: Nashville Predators (18-5-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (16-10-3).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.

Tampa Bay goaltender John Grahame will likely try to set a franchise record when the Lightning play host to the Nashville Predators.

Grahame tied the team mark of eight consecutive wins by stopping 18 shots in the Lightning's 5-4 victory Thursday over the St. Louis Blues. The record was set by Nikolai Khabibulin from Feb. 23-March 6, 2004.

Thursday's win was the fourth straight by the surging Lightning, who have won eight of their last nine games.

Grahame was aided by a comeback that erased a two-goal deficit. Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice and Martin St. Louis netted the tiebreaker during the rally.

"I think we showed our team's strength," Fedotenko said. "Even 3-1 down, we find a way to win the game."

The Lightning have come from behind in three of their last five victories, including a rally from three goals down to secure a 4-3 shootout win Nov. 23 over the Washington Capitals.

Meanwhile, the Predators will be playing without their top goaltender. Tomas Vokoun will miss at least two weeks with a knee strain that happened in a 5-1 loss Thursday to the New York Rangers.

Vokoun stopped a shot by Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis when his leg was caught and twisted in the net in the first period. He felt pain but stayed in the game before giving way to backup Chris Mason.

"I was as surprised as everybody," Vokoun said. "I just went down, tried to extend my leg and I couldn't do it. I just went off the ice."

Vokoun had won eight of his last 10 decisions entering his 300th game with the Predators. He was tied with Dominik Hasek of the Ottawa Senators for most victories with 15.

The Predators will also be without center David Legwand for four weeks. Nashville's first-ever draft pick hurt his left knee in the second period and had to be helped off the ice.

An MRI taken Friday revealed torn cartilage in his left knee. Later in the day, Nashville recalled goaltender Brian Finley and center Kris Beech from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

Finley, picked sixth overall by the Predators in the 1999 draft, was 5-0-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in six games with Milwaukee.

Beech, selected immediately after Finley by the Washington Capitals, was the Admirals' leading scorer with nine goals and 13 assists in 22 games.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 9): Predators - 39 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Central Division. Lightning - 35 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Steve Sullivan, 11 goals; Paul Kariya and Kimmo Timonen, 15 assists; Kariya, 24 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 85 PIM. Lightning - Fredrik Modin, 14 goals; Vaclav Prospal 22 assists and 35 points; Pavel Kubina, 48 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 9): Predators - Power play: 18.2 percent (31 for 170), 13th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.0 percent (154 for 177), 3rd. Lightning - Power play: 14.4 percent (25 for 173), 26th. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (121 for 143), 6th.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Mason (3-0-1, 0, 2.67); Finley (no appearances). Lightning - Grahame (12-8-1, 1, 2.64); Sean Burke (3-1-2, 0, 2.77).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 1-0-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 5, 2004; Lightning, 5-2. At Nashville, Tenn., Dan Boyle, Kubina and Ben Clymer scored second period goals for the Lightning. Denis Arkhipov scored both goals for the Predators.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 5-2-3 on the road; Lightning - 9-5-1 at home.

Associated Press

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