Nashville Goal Scorer:Cullen (SHG, 00:46 of the third period) Assists: None
Tampa Bay, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning struck early and kept their foot on the pedal, scoring four goals on their first 17 shots of the game. Nashville’s defensive breakdowns and small mistakes allowed the high-power Lightning to capitalize quickly.
Matt Cullen got the Preds on the board with shorthanded goal just 46 seconds into the final frame, after breaking in and taking advantage of a bad pass from goaltender Cedrick Desjardins. Cullen’s goal looked to give Nashville some jump, but the Lightning opened a four-goal gap once again less than two minutes later.
The Predators finished their Florida trip with a 0-2-1 record.
Three Big Things:
Fountain of Youth: Matt Cullen was the Predators’ best player on Thursday night, not only because of his goal, but because of strong play on both ends. Cullen’s speed and offensive mindset paid off with his shorthanded marker, and his game-changing abilities will be a welcomed asset for Nashville this season. Cullen, along with wingers Colin Wilson and Viktor Stalberg, look like the leading candidates as the Preds line this season. They have demonstrated a skill level and speed that Nashville has not seen in years.
Jones continues to pile up minutes: Rookie Seth Jones totaled 21:31 of ice time on Thursday night playing alongside captain Shea Weber on Thursday night, with Weber playing spending most of his time on the left point. Jones once again showed off his skill set and made a couple of nice plays on defense, including a race to beat Tampa’s Steven Stamkos to a loose puck in the defensive end. Jones had a hard collision with two Lightning players midway through the third that hobbled him for a moment, but he quickly returned to the ice for a power play shift.
Getting off to a quick start is imperative: As discussed after the Preds first game against Florida, they must get off to quick starts this season – that is not what happened on Thursday night. Tampa quickly jumped on the scoreboard, rocking Nashville back onto its heels and leaving the young Preds scrambling. Nashville was able to respond in its two previous exhibition games when faced with adversity early, but that was not the case in Tampa.
Matt Cullen on his goal: “The goalie tried to wrap it around and bounce it to his defenseman. It ended up right on my stick and I put it into the open net. It was nice to get a goal, but it would have been nicer to get the win.”
Zach Budish on his first preseason games after five development camps: “It was exciting to play my first game, even though it was an exhibition game, it was really exciting. I wish we could have come out with a win, but it was good to get my feet wet.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz on tonight’s game: “The first 10 minutes we were kind of stuck in the mud. They came out hard – they’re a high pressure team and they got on us early. They came at us really hard, they transitioned the game well and they buried their chances. They jumped on us early and caught us off guard. I thought we responded better in the second period, but that third goal did us in. They had four goals on 17 shots – two of them were way too easy.”