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Preds Drop First Road Preseason Game to Lightning

Nashville Gains Insight in Evaluation of Cusp Roster Players

by Thomas Willis @TomAWillis / Digital Manager & Producer

The Predators fell 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday evening in Nashville's first road preseason game.

Austin Watson scored the lone goal for the Preds, while Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away all but one of the 30 shots he faced in a game that saw the preseason debuts of Steven Stamkos, after missing the last nine months due to injury, and Victor Hedman.

Nashville utilized a less-experienced roster that, according to Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette, was dressed with the intention of evaluating players on the cusp of making the opening night roster.

"We're still in a big time evaluation process of young players and you want to see the young kids being put in situations where they get opportunities," Laviolette said. "I thought Miikka Salomaki had another good game; [Colton] Sissons had a good game. I thought Samuel Girard and Yannick Weber were really good on the backend, Juuse Saros was really good.

"We're here, again, evaluating the young talent, the people trying to move up the lineup and for that I thought it was good. I thought our guys competed really hard tonight, shots are pretty even, chances were even, they won it on the scoreboard."

Hedman opened the scoring on the Lightning's first shot of the contest by directing a feed between the pads of Saros. Later in the first, Nikita Kucherov collected his second point of the night by burying a puck just to the left of the Predators' net, with the Lightning on a 5-on-3 power play.

Early in the third period, Yanni Gourde notched his first of the preseason to up Tampa's advantage to 3-0.

It took until the final six minutes of regulation for the Preds to solve Vasilevskiy, when Watson aimed a one-timer high and past the keeper's blocker.

"I thought we worked hard, we worked hard for 60 minutes," Watson, whose goal was his first of the preseason, said. "The effort was great and you can clean up some systems things. Going into this game, our goal is to win it, that's the only thing that there is. We understand that there's some differences in lineups, but we go into every game thinking we're going to win. We didn't do enough tonight, but I thought everybody competed really hard."

With the preseason now halfway over for Nashville and another game coming up on Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Watson said he wants to see a commitment to hard work for the team, regardless of personnel.

"I just want us to continue to work," he said. "We ended the year on such a positive, yet negative way, coming into it now we have high expectations for ourselves. We know what we're capable of. We just need to keep working this preseason here to get our game on track and be ready to go game one (against the Boston Bruins)."

Notes:

Juuse Saros started his second game of the preseason, making 26 saves in the loss.

The Predators went 0-for-7 on the power play, including a chance with a 5-on-3 man advantage.

Nashville debuted their ADIZERO road jerseys in their game against the Lightning.

Next up for the Predators is their second and final preseason game on the road when they face the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT). The game will be streamed on NashvillePredators.com and may be heard on 102.5 The Game.

The preseason slate will wrap up at the end of next week with home games against the Blue Jackets and Lightning on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. To purchase tickets, click here.

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