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Preds hand Lightning another road loss

by Brian Compton
This six-game road trip isn't exactly going very well for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Having already lost the first two games, the Lightning allowed five goals during the second period on Tuesday night en route to a 7-4 loss to the Nashville Predators.

David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who set a season high for goals in a game. Jerred Smithson, Ryan Jones, J.P. Dumont, Dan Hamhuis and Marin Erat also scored for Nashville, which received a 30-save effort from Pekka Rinne.

"It was a little bit wide open," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "Both sides got some easy goals. But I give a lot of credit to the guys. I was worried about this game being a trap game."

Vincent Lecavalier had two goals and an assist for the Lightning, who will look to avoid a fourth-straight loss on this road trip on Thursday at Detroit. Steven Stamkos and Kurtis Foster also scored for Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay actually led 2-1 after 20 minutes, getting with goals from Stamkos and Lecavalier after Smithson opened the scoring 6:53 into the game. Stamkos' goal was his 18th of the season.

But the Predators erupted in the second with a five-goal outburst. Legwand got the parade started when he poked one past Antero Niittymaki at 1:12, and Jones gave Nashville a 3-2 lead just 1:45 later. Hornqvist gave the Preds a two-goal lead 12:22, which ended Niittymaki's night. But replacement Mike Smith allowed Dumont's sixth goal of the season just 28 seconds after entering the game. Hamhuis made it 6-2 with a blast from the point with 3:51 left in the second. Overall, Nashville scored five times on 10 shots.

"You can't defend in this League like you used to," Trotz said. "You've really got to play the 60 minutes. You can't hook and hold, so you've got to play hard. We'll take the two points. To me, that was a real hard game to play. They're real talented."

Tampa Bay managed to cut the lead to 6-4 in the third period with goals from Foster and Lecavalier, but Erat iced the victory with his 11th goal of the season at 13:47.

"It was a tough night for the goalies," Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said. "Overall, I thought our guys worked hard tonight. I really enjoyed watching the effort. I'm sure Smitty and Niitty were wishing they could have a couple (of goals) back."

Wild 2, Blue Jackets 1 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Marek Zidlicky's goal extended Minnesota's success at home, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Zidlicky broke a 1-1 tie with just 39 seconds left as the Wild improved to 10-1-1 in their last 12 games at Xcel Energy Center with a pulsating victory against Columbus, which has lost seven in a row on the road (0-4-3).

"I just tried to shoot it," Zidlicky said. "There was a couple seconds left, so I just made sure I didn't hit anybody in front of me."

It was Minnesota's fourth straight win on home ice and moved the Wild within four points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Guillaume Latendresse also scored and Mikko Koivu had a pair of assists for the Wild, which begin a two-game road trip on Thursday at Montreal.

"We need to find a way to play great hockey for 60 minutes," Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom said following his 21-save performance. "We want to be a team that plays every night, plays their best hockey 60 minutes. We're happy with the points, but not the whole 60 minutes."

Rick Nash scored the lone goal for the Blue Jackets, now 2-8-4 in their last 14 games. Steve Mason made 21 saves in the loss.

Nash gave Columbus a 1-0 lead 3:41 into the second period when he beat Backstrom on a wraparound for his team-leading 17th goal of the season and fifth point in the last four games.

"We made mistakes," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. 

But Latendresse tied things less than five minutes later when he took a nifty, no-look pass from Koivu and beat Mason between the pads. Martin Havlat -- who had 77 points with Chicago last season -- was credited with the second assist, giving him a point on six straight goals for the Wild, dating to Friday's game at Calgary.

"I don't think too many guys are happy with the way we played," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "We're happy we won, but I'm leaving the rink tonight not feeling great."

Material from wire services was used in this report

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