Lightning strike quick, top Predators for sixth straight win

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NASHVILLE — Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist, Mathieu Joseph scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning won their sixth consecutive game with a 6-1 victory against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev each had three assists for the Lightning (9-1-1), who outscored the Predators 10-2 during the two-game set. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves.

“This group knows what it takes to win,” Stamkos said. “I thought we were very comfortable in whatever situation we were put in. They came out with a game plan to try to be really physical. We matched that and just went from there. Whether it’s a physical game, a tight-checking game, a special-teams game, I think we’re well-equipped to handle all those situations.”

Juuse Saros made 24 saves for Nashville (5-8-0), which has lost five of its past six games and eight of its past 11.

“I thought we had some good looks,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “I think some of the execution came in on the power play as the game went on. I thought the first power play we had some good looks. [Roman Josi] ripped one off the post. As the game went on, we didn’t execute as well as we needed to in that particular area.”

Rocco Grimaldi gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 4:43 of the first period, cutting back on Victor Hedman before beating Vasilevskiy glove side with a wrist shot. Sean Malone, who was playing in his first game since April 8, 2017, when he was with the Buffalo Sabres, had the primary assist for his first NHL point.

Video: TBL@NSH: Grimaldi wires home wicked wrister

“Tonight we gave ourselves a chance,” Hynes said. “Unfortunately special teams, they went 3-for-5 on the power play. We went 0-for-4 and took a penalty on one of them. I thought the special teams was a big difference in the game. It’s as we continue to talk about, it’s finding that balance with the 5-on-5. We took a step with that today versus [Monday], but then the special teams weren’t as good. That was the biggest difference in the game.”

Stamkos tied it 1-1 at 11:28 of the first period on a rebound, and Ondrej Palat scored 63 seconds later to make it 2-1 with a one-timer on the power play.

Video: TBL@NSH: Palat finishes off the feed from Stamkos

“They had a good game plan against us last time, so we made some adjustments (on the power play),” Stamkos said. “Nice to see it go in. It kind of sparked us a little bit early and to get a couple late is good for the confidence. We knew without [Nikita Kucherov] this year it’s going to be a little bit of a work in progress, but tonight it was a difference-maker for us.”

Joseph extended the lead to 3-1 at 14:03 of the first with a one-timer off a pass from Sergachev.

“We have such balance on each line,” Stamkos said. “Just really the attention to detail on the defensive side is huge. I think when you go on a run like we have and have been successful, you realize what works and what doesn’t. We’ve certainly learned from years past and you’re seeing that put to work now each and every night.”

Yanni Gourde gave Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead at 6:40 of the third period on a rebound, and Stamkos pushed it to 5-1 at 14:34 with a power-play goal.

Video: TBL@NSH: Gourde sweeps up rebound with backhander

Joseph scored the Lightning’s third goal with the man-advantage at 16:20 for the 6-1 final.

“We’re doing pretty good,” Gourde said. “Obviously, we want to get better each game. There are things we work on. We’re relentless and this group, we want to get better. That’s really the focus.”

NOTES: The Lightning are 4-0-0 against the Predators this season and have outscored them 19-7. … Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (undisclosed) left in the second period. There was no update on his status following the game. 

Video: Stamkos, Joseph lead Lightning to sixth straight win

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