An undefeated streak that reached all the way back to the NHL Prospects Showcase was snapped on Friday night in Tampa, as the Lightning topped the Predators, 3-1. Nashville was 5-0-0 in the month, counting three prospect games and two preseason games on Monday.
The Preds carried a 1-0 lead into the third period in Tampa Bay, but the Lightning scored three times in the final frame, including the game-winner from Nikita Kucherov with less than 40 seconds to play, to earn the win.
Despite the result, there were still parts of the game Nashville was pleased with when all was said and done.
"We were with them every step of the way," Preds center Nick Bonino said. "We had a lead into the third, and we'd love to hold that, but [goaltender Juuse Saros] played really well. We carried play into second period and just couldn't get another goal, and they have some pretty good players over there making some good plays late in the game."
"There are times we were really good and times where they it seemed like their power play gave them some momentum," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We did a lot of good things out there tonight. It's tough to lose it that way when you're doing a pretty good job. It's 1-1 late in the game, and you never like to see a game end like that, so that was tough."
Video: Nick Bonino happy with Preds power play
The Nashville power play had three opportunities in the first period, and one of them led to a dandy of a goal. Kyle Turris fed a pass down low to Bonino, who then spun around on his backhand to find Calle Jarnkrok for a shot into a wide-open cage at 15:32 of the opening frame.
It wasn't just the goal that impressed on the man advantage either. The Predators displayed quick puck movement on each of their opportunities, registering seven shots on the power play, and that doesn't include a post that was hit by Turris on the first chance. In particular, the unit of Turris, Bonino, Jarnkrok, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Ellis was sharp and may provide the makings of a reliable option once the regular season arrives.
"We've been working with that unit throughout camp now, so it felt good to see some of that work pay off," Bonino said. "There's a ways to go before the regular season, and we'll iron some things out… We had that goal, but we had a couple good looks too, and even if we don't score, we're getting momentum. I think we're happy with those."
Stellar netminding from Saros held the tally at 1-0 through two periods, but Tampa Bay cashed in on their own power play in the third to even the score halfway through the stanza.
Then, with less than 40 seconds to play, Kucherov, the NHL's point leader last season, potted the game-winner and an empty-net tally in a 30-second span.
Quickly, the preseason schedule is halfway through for the Predators, and after these same teams get together in Nashville on Saturday night, things will start to change even faster as the regular season inches closer.
"At some point, we're going to start putting our team together," Laviolette said. "There's still a lot of young kids in here, and we're just evaluating them. We'll go home tomorrow night against the same team with a chance for some of the players who haven't seen any action yet to get in there. Once we get through this game and into the last two games, it'll be a little bit more of our lineup."
Video: Coach Laviolette talks Preds vs. Lightning
Associate Captain Ryan Ellis and Nick Bonino, who served as an alternate, wore A's on their sweaters on Friday.
Nashville will return to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night to finish out their home-and-home preseason set with Tampa Bay (at 7 p.m. CT). Watch a live stream of the game on NashvillePredators.com. After that, only two more preseason contests will remain for the Preds - both against Carolina - on Wednesday and Friday.