Mattias Ekholm scored on the power play at 3:50 of overtime and the Nashville Predators completed a preseason comeback to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
The Preds tallied two goals in the final five minutes of regulation, courtesy of Cody Bass and Viktor Arvidsson, before Ekholm finished things off in OT to improve Nashville’s exhibition record to 2-0-1.
“We purposely sent the young group down here to evaluate them and watch them play and they responded,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “It was a big third period. They came out and really got after it, they put in a couple goals and then won it in overtime. It says a lot about the group. There are always two paths you can choose and they chose the right path.”
A scoreless first period led to Tampa Bay’s Erik Condra breaking the tie in the second stanza, depositing a cross-ice pass through the crease from Mike Angelidis past Predators netminder Carter Hutton for a 1-0 lead.
Jonathan Drouin put the Lightning ahead by two just 1:01 into the third period on a backhand that between Hutton five-hole. The forward split two Predators defenders near the Nashville blue line and motored to cage before slipping the puck in the net.
The Preds wouldn't go away, however, and at 15:18 of the third, Bass cut the Lightning lead to one before Arvidsson evened the score with less than three minutes to play in regulation
A 3-on-3 overtime session, which would have been played no matter the score, was needed to decide a winner, with Ekholm finalizing the comeback - courtesy of a little help from the twig of Preds defenseman Anthony Bitetto.
“My stick broke; I didn't really know what to do, so I skated to the bench and I got Anthony Bitetto’s stick. Maybe I should change the curve of my stick now.” Ekholm quipped. “But the character of this group, there's a lot of young guys here. Just to battle, and be down 2-0 on the road, and battle back in the third shows a lot of character. Then to win in OT, it's just preseason but still feels really good.”
Gabriel Bourque, Seth Jones, Kevin Fiala, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis added assists on the evening. Hutton finished with 26 stops on 28 shots while Ekholm and forward Yakov Trenin paced the Preds with five shots apiece.
Infographic: Preds Shock The Bolts
Preds Captain Shea Weber is scheduled to make his preseason debut on Wednesday against the Lightning when Nashville hosts Tampa Bay at 7 p.m. (CT). The Preds flagship station, 102.5 The Game, will broadcast all the action.