Even if they are the nail-biting, sweat it out to the end kind of games.
The Nashville Predators did just that as they took on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. The Predators knocked off the Lightning 3-2, beating a top ranked Eastern Conference team for the second game in a row.
The Lightning opened the game with lots of jump and controlled play in the Predators end of the ice, outshooting them 9-3 through the first ten minutes of the first period.
The positive for the Predators was that they scored on 2 of those three shots.
Mike Ribeiro redirected a shot from the point by Roman Josi that eluded Ben Bishop. Just 40 seconds later, Paul Gaustad batted a puck out of the air off a rebound of a Taylor Beck shot past Bishop to give the Predators a 2-0 lead.
The Lightning cut the lead to 2-1 with just 39 seconds remaining in the the first period as Vladamir Namestnikov beat Pekka Rinne on a wrap around.
Mike Santorelli got his first goal as a Predators as he followed the rebound of his shot and jammed it between the skate of Bishop and the post to make it 3-1.
Brian Boyle cut the lead to 3-2 as the Predators defense completely forgot about him standing in the low slot. He took a pass from J.T. Brown and beat Rinne and give the momentum to the Bolts.
That set up a third period where the game rested on the broad shoulders of Rinne. Rinne didn't disappoint as he made some great saves and got some help from the defense in front of him. Rinne stopped all 11 shots he faced and the Predators captured a confidence building 3-2 win.
- With the win, the Predators are the first team in the Central Division to reach 100 points. They currently have the Division lead by 1 over the Blues.
- Rinne was outstanding tonight. He was in control and moved well in the crease. The only time he was caught out of position was on the goal by Namestnikov, and it appeared that he was tangled with one of his defensemen when he tried to push off and come back to the post. Rinne was in control of the game and his team in front of him fed off that effort.
- Goodness, the power play is just awful. I have no words for this unit and their inability to generate some quality chances. Watch out, because this is going to be an Achilles heel for this team.
- Good to see Mike Santorelli finally get on the score sheet. Hopefully this gets him going.
- Calle Jarnkrok was a beast on the penalty kill and his forechecking frustrated the skilled Lightning forwards and disrupted their offensive rhythm all night. Great effort in a roll that is often overlooked.
The home crowd gathers here before the game and it is a festive atmosphere.
The plaza area is called "Thunder Alley, and this is a view of it before the crowds gather. The band stage is to the right.
The statue of Phil Esposito on the plaza. Phil was the first General Manager of the Lightning and still does radio color for the team.
The statue of Dave Andruchuk, the Captain of the Lightning when they won the Stanley Cup. As you can see, it is at the entrance to Thunder Alley.
The massive scoreboard inside of Amalie Arena. You almost feel like you are in Jerry World in Dallas when you see the size of the scoreboard.
The Arena doesn't have a band stage, but they have a huge organ that is played throughout the game. This is a shot of the stage where the organ sits at the top of the arena.
The arena has two Tesla coils that fire off lightning bolts when the Lightning come on the ice. I have to say, it is one of the coolest things I have seen in an arena.
A huge win for the Predators, one that will hopefully give them more swagger as they sprint to the end of the season.
A final thought: big, BIG ups to the number of Predators fans that made the trip down to support the boys. There was a noticeable amount of gold spread throughout the arena.
My three stars:
1. Pekka Rinne
2. Brian Boyle
3. Paul Gaustad