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Power Play Comes Alive as Preds Beat Lightning in Overtime

Duchene Scores Tying Goal in Final Seconds Before Pitlick Wins It For Nashville

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Are you not entertained?

Matt Duchene tied the game with 3.4 seconds left in regulation, and Rem Pitlick won it in overtime as the Nashville Predators came back to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-4, on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result moves the Preds to 3-1-0 in the preseason, and it couldn't have come in a more exciting fashion.

"It was a fun game," Preds Captain Roman Josi said. "We played pretty well, had a lot of chances, a lot of shots the whole game, and it was a crazy finish, but it was a lot of fun."

For the first time this preseason, Nashville dressed Josi, Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and goaltender Pekka Rinne, and it was Duchene's first game action as a member of the Preds.

"It's definitely the biggest preseason crowd I've ever played in front of, by probably double," Duchene said. "It felt like a regular-season game with the crowd, and it was exciting."

The skaters in that group also make up Nashville's top power-play unit, and after hours of practice during training camp, the group converted on their first opportunity of the night.

Less than seven minutes into the contest, Johansen found Josi at the point, and the blueliner fed Forsberg in the left circle, where the winger one-timed a shot past Lightning goaltender Scott Wedgewood for a 1-0 advantage.

"We've been working on it a lot this past week, and it's definitely a little different to go into a game other than practice and to get a couple goals," Josi said. "It'll definitely give us some confidence."

Tampa Bay evened the score minutes later courtesy of Cameron Gaunce, and after the Lightning took a 2-1 lead in the second, Eeli Tolvanen tallied his first of the preseason.

Just as another Nashville power play expired, Tolvanen took a cross-ice feed from Josh Wilkins and deposited a shot past the netminder to tie the game once more.

It was back and forth in the third period as well, with the Lightning taking another lead before Arvidsson snapped Nashville's second power-play goal of the night into the twine. Tampa Bay came right back less than a minute later, but with the extra attacker on, Arvidsson found Duchene across the ice, and the new Nashville forward fired one home to force overtime.

And according to Duchene, it almost didn't happen.

"It was actually kind of funny, I looked up at the clock right as Arv got it, because I didn't really expect it to come through," Duchene said. "I just wanted to see how much time was left, and I looked back right as it was probably 10 feet from me, so I kind of got lucky there."

In the extra session, Pitlick stripped the puck from a Lightning defender right in front of the net, and the winger sent the home crowd into a frenzy as he ended it at 1:39 of overtime.

Yes, it's only the preseason, but it was quite a way to finish off a Saturday night in Smashville - and the newcomer loved every minute of it.

"That was fun," Duchene said. "I've been looking forward to this all summer, and to be able to be part of a win here at home right away on a Saturday night, there's nothing better."

Video: Forsberg, Duchene and Josi talk 5-4 overtime win

Taking Advantage:

It's been said practice makes perfect. 

Nashville's new top power-play unit has had plenty of practice with the power play in training camp thus far, and as they all made their preseason debuts on Saturday night, they put on a show.

Under the guidance of new Nashville Assistant Coach Dan Lambert, the unit of Duchene, Johansen, Forsberg, Arvidsson and Josi went to work, scoring twice on the night. The Preds essentially had a third power-play marker as well from Eeli Tolvanen as the winger scored just as time had expired on another man advantage.

The extra-attacker goal from Duchene also saw Nashville's top personnel on the ice again, and they worked their magic one more time.

When it was all said and done, the Predators were more than pleased with what they saw on the man advantage, especially after last season's struggles.

"Adding Duchene helps a lot," Josi said. "He's unbelievable in front of the net, and you saw today that play he made to Arv, and I think Coach Lambert puts a lot of emphasis on moving the puck quick, moving it around quick. I thought we did a pretty good job today. We had two goals, but we had some pretty good looks other than that too, so it's been good so far and we're going to keep working on it and keep building on it."

"The execution has been a lot quicker," Preds Associate Head Coach Kevin McCarthy said. "The guys are moving pucks quicker, and that's one thing that [Lambert] has talked about from Day One is they want to make sure that we create lanes to shoot… I think having those two left-hand shots is huge, [Nick Bonino] on the one unit and [Duchene] on the other unit… When you have the left-hand shot on that goal line to allow you [score a goal like Arvidsson's], you can execute those plays… It's something they've worked on quite a bit."

And as McCarthy explained, the Predators know they're not going to score on every power play, but there is still something to gain from each and every opportunity.

"[Lambert] talks about all the time is even if you don't score on the power play, if you can create the momentum, and then when it does, it just changes things and allows you to keep the pace going even when you go 5-on-5 after the power play," McCarthy said. "If you had a good one, even if you don't score, the guys are still upbeat and positive about it."

The Predators got much more than momentum from the power play tonight, and if early indications are anything, there will be plenty of additional celebrations in the months to come.

Video: McCarthy talks 5-4 OT win, Duchene and Tolvanen

Notes:

Nashville's preseason schedule is down to just two games, the first of which comes Wednesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena (at 7 p.m. CT). Two nights later, the same two clubs get together in Raleigh for Nashville's final dress rehearsal before the regular season begins on Oct. 3. 

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