Five different Predators rookies found the back of the net as Nashville defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 5-3 final on Sunday afternoon at Germain Arena. The result gives the Predators two wins in as many days in the NHL Prospects Showcase, with 10 goals scored in total in that time span.
A balanced attack led the Preds on Sunday, with the team believing they put forth an improved effort compared to the opening contest of the tournament, and although Tampa Bay made it interesting late, the Nashville rookies passed the test once more.
"We looked way better out there today compared to the first game yesterday," Preds Captain Alexandre Carrier said. "Saturday was the first game for everyone in five months, so we competed hard, but today was way better. I think we showed it on the ice, and we were better as a team, but individually as well, so I'm very happy with the team."
"Scoring is a big part of how I like to play," Milwaukee Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor - who is behind the bench for the Preds at the Showcase - said. "You have to defend, but we want to score, we want to attack and we want to pressure. You see us airmailing pucks to put pressure on D corps, those are very difficult things to defend. We want to continually do that to challenge people, and make sure they feel uneasy about what's occurring and we're feeling good."
Video: Coach Taylor talks Nashville's 5-3 win
After a quick start from the opponents led to a 1-0 Lightning lead, Nashville answered before the opening frame was out when Yakov Trenin turned and fired a shot from the slot that beat Tampa Bay goaltender Connor Ingram for a 1-1 draw after one.
The second stanza saw the Preds take their first lead of the afternoon, thanks to a strike from Carl Persson in the slot. Just minutes later, and moments after he hit the post, forward Alex Overhardt redirected a Carrier point shot past Ingram to give Nashville a 3-1 advantage through 40 minutes.
Emil Pettersson made it 4-1 with a power-play marker in the third period, but the Lightning inched closer down the stretch and pulled to within a goal of tying the game. However, Taylor was able to settle down the bench and had full confidence in his club to finish the job.
"In that moment, you want to trust your players," Taylor said. "Do we want to win every game we play here? Sure, but no Stanley Cups or Calder Cups are being won right now, so I wanted to trust them… I wanted to test the guys, and they answered the bell quite well."
Video: Carrier pleased with Preds performance
Justin Kirkland threw a puck into the empty net for Nashville's fifth and final tally of the day to seal the victory, further satisfaction even after Saturday's win in the opening contest.
"Overall, as a complete team game, we played better today," Kirkland said. "We were a little bit more within the systems, and I think everybody was a little more comfortable getting into the second game. That first game was a bit of a feeling out process and today the guys kind of knew what to expect."
The team will enjoy a well-deserved day off on Monday, before getting back on the ice Tuesday to face the Capitals once more to conclude the tournament. The chance to come away with a perfect record exists, something the Preds would love to take back with them to Nashville before training camp opens Thursday.
"It's exciting," Kirkland said of the opportunity. "We're definitely going to take advantage of a day off tomorrow, maybe check out the pool here at the resort, but Tuesday, we're going to come ready to win."
Video: Kirkland talks Preds win over Lightning
As they did on Saturday, Alexandre Carrier (captain) and Colin Blackwell (assistant captain) wore letters on their sweaters against the Lightning. Forward Anthony Richard also served as an assistant captain.
Goaltender Miroslav Svoboda made 20 saves for the Preds in the win; Nashville outshot Tampa Bay 38-23.
The Predators rookies return to the ice Tuesday morning to take on the Washington Capitals in the finale of the Prospects Showcase. The puck drops at 10:30 a.m. CT and a live stream will be shown in the Nashville viewing area on NashvillePredators.com.