TAMPA, Fla. — Playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning raised their 2020 Stanley Cup banner and beat the Nashville Predators 6-3 on Saturday night.
Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, Blake Coleman and Mathieu Joseph also scored, and Erik Cernak finished with two assists.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots to earn his NHL-leading 17th win.
Erik Haula, Alexandre Carrier and Yakov Trenin scored for the Predators, who fell to 1-5-1 in their past seven games. Pekka Rinne made 21 saves.
With a maximum crowd of 3,800 in attendance, the Lightning hoisted their 2020 championship banner to the rafters and jumped to a three-goal lead.
Johnson opened the scoring, sliding along the ice before tapping in a pass from Cernak at 6:55 of the first period. Joseph made it 2-0 with 1:25 left with a slap shot from the right circle for his sixth of the season.
Killorn tapped in a shot-pass from Ondrej Palat for a power-play goal to make it 3-0 at 2:24 of the second.
Trenin cut it to 3-1 with a wrist shot from the left circle at 12:02 but Point, celebrating his 25th birthday, answered at 18:48 as he cut high across before sending a wrist shot to the opposite post.
Nashville shaved the deficit to one with Carrier’s first career goal as the trailer on a 3-on-2 rush at 3:17 of the third and Haula’s power-play goal at 5:03.
Coleman restored a two-goal advantage with a backhand from the low slot at 10:02. McDonagh added an empty-net goal with 1:34 remaining.
Former NHL MVP Nikita Kucherov made a surprise appearance on the ice with the Lightning during the morning skate. Kucherov is recovering from hip surgery in December that is expected to keep him out for at least the remainder of the regular season.
“Kuch is a big part of our team, so anytime we can have him around, it’s great for us being able to see progress is being made,’’ coach Jon Cooper said. “He’s starting to feel a little bit better. Is he far away from doing the things he usually does out there? Yes.’’
Nashville started the day with seven players on injured reserve, including captain Roman Josi, goaltender Juuse Saros, centre Matt Duchene and defenceman Ryan Ellis, while defenceman Dante Fabbro served the second game of a two-game suspension. Before the game, the Predators added defenceman Mark Borowiecki to the list, announcing he would be out week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Nashville activated defencemen Frederic Allard, Ben Harpur and Carrier from the taxi squad, with Allard making his NHL debut.
The teams play again on Monday afternoon.
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Erik Erlendsson, The Associated Press