Lightning open NHL season with back-and-forth win over Predators.
Nick Paul’s second power-play goal proved to be the game-winner Tuesday as the Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off NHL’s opening night with a 5-3 victory over the visiting Nashville Predators.
With the game knotted 3-all, Paul pounced on a puck and popped it in at 10:52 of the third period for the go-ahead tally.
Nikita Kucherov, who scored earlier at even strength, potted one into an empty net as Paul recorded his third point with an assist.
Brandon Hagel tallied on a penalty shot for Tampa Bay, which was 2-for-5 on the man advantage.
Playing in his 500th NHL game, star top-line center Brayden Point registered three assists, and Mikhail Sergachev added two helpers.
In his first start for Tampa Bay in place of injured goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (back surgery), Jonas Johansson made 28 saves.
The Predators got a goal and an assist from Ryan O’Reilly in his club debut, along with goals from Juuso Parssinen and Tommy Novak (power play).
Filip Forsberg registered points in his eighth straight season-opening match, posting two helpers.
Juuse Saros stopped 29 shots, and coach Andrew Brunette lost in his Nashville debut.
To open the first matchup of the 2023-24 campaign, the Lightning cashed in at 9:48 when Kucherov unloaded a one-timer from high above the right circle with Steven Stamkos screening Saros.
After being outshot 12-2 in the opening frame and with his team on its third power play, Nashville’s Tyson Barrie ripped a blast that struck teammate Cody Glass on the left side of the helmet, dropping the second-line center and sending him to the dressing room with assistance from the staff. He later returned to the game.
Later in the second, Forsberg toe-dragged his way around top Lightning defender Victor Hedman and fed O’Reilly for his first marker with Nashville at 16:15 for a 1-all tie.
Just 11 seconds into the third, Parssinen took a pass from Forsberg and slid the puck between Johansson’s pad for the Predators’ first lead of the season, but Paul put in a rebound on the power play 2:14 later.
Hagel scored on his first career penalty shot 42 seconds afterward by snapping one past Saros for a 3-2 lead.
Novak’s power-play snipe narrowly beat Johansson on the inside of the left post at 8:48 to knot it again, but Paul added his second one on the man advantage at 10:52.
Johansson wins in debut, Paul has 2 power-play goals and Lightning beat Predators 5-3.
Jonas Johansson made 28 saves in his first start in place of the injured Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nicholas Paul had two third-period power-play goals and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 in the NHL regular-season opener on Tuesday night.
Johansson was signed to be Vasilevskiy’s backup. Vasilevskiy had back surgery two weeks ago and is expected to miss another six to eight weeks.
“His game was quiet,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “He made himself big. He wasn’t erratic. He just plays positional goal. When the heat got turned up, his heart rate didn’t go up. You’d have to say he passed the test.”
Brandon Hagel converted a penalty shot, and Nikita Kucherov also scored twice for the Lightning. Brayden Point had three assists.
The Lightning are 20-9-2 in season openers, which is the NHL’s highest winning percentage (minimum 10 games played).
Nashville’s Juuse Saros stopped 29 shots. Ryan O’Reilly, Juuso Parssinen and Tommy Novak had goals in Andrew Brunette’s debut as Predators coach.
“I felt good about our game,” Brunette said. “Just against this team, we talked about it coming in, you can’t get into penalty trouble. Their power play is elite. I’ve seen this record play too many times in this building”
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, entering the final season of a $68 million, eight-year contract, had an assist. Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois has said the salary-cap challenged team won’t begin talks on a new deal until after the season.
Novak had a power-play goal at 8:48 before Paul made it 4-3 on a man-advantage goal 2:04 later. Kucherov added an empty-netter.
Parssinen scored 11 seconds into the third period before goals 42-seconds apart by Paul, on the power play, and Hagel put the Lightning up 3-2 at 3:07.
Kucherov scored the lone first-period goal as Tampa Bay had a 13-2 shot advantage.
“Not the start we wanted,” O’Reilly said. “We have to be more consistent with that, but we battled back.”
O’Reilly tied it at 1 during the second period as Nashville outshot the Lightning 14-5.
“I think the second got away from us.” Point said. “But happy with how we responded in the third.”
Nashville center Cody Glass took a point shot by teammate Tyson Barrie off the helmet with 6 minutes left in the second but returned in the third period.
Lightning forward Tyler Motte sat out the third with an undisclosed injury.
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