Mathieu Olivier scored his first NHL goal, and Nashville put up a fight in the third period, but it wasn't enough as the Predators started their four-game road trip with a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. The result evens Nashville's record at 4-4-0 and concludes their two-game winning streak.
The Preds had a lead after 20 minutes for the first time this season, but Nashville surrendered four goals to the Lightning in the second period, a stanza Preds Head Coach John Hynes said led to the loss.
Nashville mounted a comeback in the third, but it wasn't meant to be in their first of eight meetings this season against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Video: Hynes says Preds need to build on third-period rally
"We got ourselves in penalty trouble in the second period, and that carried the momentum to Tampa, and then we didn't do a good job responding to that momentum shift in the second," Hynes said. "The third period, we dug in and we played a lot faster. We executed with the puck better, and we were a harder team [to play against]. The second period cost us the game."
Video: Mathieu Olivier relives his first NHL goal
"In the second period, we're killing way too many penalties," Preds forward Filip Forsberg said. "It definitely disrupts our 5-on-5 game and guys are playing a lot versus guys not playing a ton. We've got to be better on the penalty kill, but then in the third, we just put the foot down on the gas pedal instead of sitting back, just attacked the game and then the result kind of came from there."
Video: NSH@TB: Ellis buries PPG from slot to open scoring
Preds Associate Captain Ryan Ellis gave his club a 1-0 lead in the first period when he tallied on the power play, but the four-goal second for the Lightning put the game in the home team's favor. Two of those four tallies came on the man advantage, and as Hynes said, the Preds were unable to slow down Tampa Bay's momentum until the period was over.
Before the second period concluded, defenseman Mark Borowiecki got into his first scrap as a member of the Preds, and that animosity carried over into the third when fellow blueliner Dante Fabbro recorded his first fighting major in the NHL. Along with the physical play, the Predators also dictated the pace in the final period, and Olivier cut the lead to 4-2 with the first of his career on the power play.
Video: NSH@TB: Olivier backhands in PPG for first NHL goal
"He plays the game really hard…and he's fast, he's physical, he keeps plays alive…and he's got the ability to be able to score because he uses his skill set the right way," Hynes said of Olivier. "So he's consistently competitive, and he's a guy that's got good skills, hard on the puck and he's got a good mind for the game. That combination, that consistency with him so far this year has been good."
Viktor Arvidsson got the Preds back to within one goal with fewer than two minutes to play in regulation, but despite numerous chances in the final minute, Nashville was unable to solve Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevski one more time.
Video: NSH@TB: Arvidsson sneaks puck in short side down low
"There's a little bit of everything, but I liked our response in the third period after a second period that we didn't do well," Olivier said. "It definitely shows the character of this team and what we're trying to build here, and it's a good stepping stone for the next game. We definitely came close to tying the game up and sending it to overtime, but nobody's happy right now. It feels like the worst loss of the year for us. So, it's a good stepping stone for next game."
That next contest comes Monday in Tampa Bay once more, and the Preds will have no choice but to improve upon a third period that showed what they're capable of when it matters most.
"We continued to fight, continued to play to be able to give ourselves a chance to go and get back in the game, so that's a positive," Hynes said. "The response to this was better than when we were down coming in the third period against Dallas [in a 7-0 loss], so I think the third period was something that we certainly build on."
Video: NSH Recap: Olivier scores first NHL goal in 4-3 loss
Rocco Grimaldi and Jarred Tinordi were scratched for Nashville on Saturday.
Pekka Rinne started his third game of the season for the Preds and made 29 saves in the loss.
The Predators are back at Amalie Arena on Monday night (at 6 p.m. CT) to finish off their two-game set with the Lightning before traveling across the state of Florida to prepare to meet the Panthers on Thursday and Friday.