Craig Smith scored twice and the Nashville Predators recorded their second win in as many nights over the Tampa Bay Lightning to improve to 3-0-1 on the preseason.
It was the first game of the exhibition schedule for Predators Captain Shea Weber, who hadn’t played since suffering a knee injury during the postseason in April, and the defenseman impressed with a power-play goal and almost 20 minutes of ice time.
“It was good to get back out there in a competitive setting and battle out there a little bit, get some hits and some contact,” Weber said. “I felt good… You don’t want to jump right into a game and find out I’m not quite ready, so it feels good, and we’ll just keep building on that and be ready for the season.”
“He looked great,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Weber. “We kept him off the penalty kill, we got him 5-on-5 time and power-play time, and we’ll increase that from here and work him in a little bit more. For his first game back since last spring, I thought he looked really good.”
James Neal opened the scoring at 7:47 of the first, finishing off a Roman Josi drive to the cage and flipping the puck past Tampa Bay goaltender Adam Wilcox.
Less than a minute later, Weber took a Mike Ribeiro feed near the top of the right circle and rocketed a shot to the back of the twine. The power-play goal came at 8:40 in Weber’s first game of the preseason.
Before the opening frame was complete, Josi picked up his second primary assist of the evening, deking through defenders before finding Smith, who converted a slap shot of his own to put the Preds up 3-0.
It was Smith again who opened the scoring in the second, snapping a shot past the blocker of Wilcox from the right circle. Tampa Bay found the back of the net twice before the period was out, courtesy of goals from Vladislav Namestnikov and J.T. Brown.
Colton Sissons potted his second of the preseason in the third period to cap off a 5-2 victory.
Two of Nashville’s five goals came on the man advantage, a bright spot for the club this preseason.
“The execution was good,” Laviolette said. “We’ve gotten some big goals, we’ve had good looks and chances too. If you’re getting the chances and getting the opportunities, you hope that the results come from that and it seems that is where we are getting the chances right now.”
With two preseason games remaining, the first not coming until Tuesday against Columbus, the Preds will have some time to rest and regroup after four games, two of which came in a doubleheader, in four days.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne played the entire game on Wednesday, stopping 30 of 32 shots.
“I'm just trying to get ready for the season,” Rinne said. “I'm feeling good. It’s fun to play again and fun to be back playing at home; it feels good."
Infographic: Smith Powers Preds