Lightning struggle to find twine with Pekke Rinne in net, fall 4-1 to Predators
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — It was a very nice Monday for Calle Jarnkrok, Pekka Rinne and the rest of the Nashville Predators.
Jarnkrok had a short-handed goal and three assists, leading the slumping Predators to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rinne stopped 38 shots and picked up his 14th career assist in Nashville’s first victory against Tampa Bay in six meetings on the season. Mattias Ekholm had a goal and an assist, and Eeli Tolvanen and Viktor Arvidsson also scored.
The Predators won for the second time in the past eight games.
“Everybody knows we’ve been struggling, it’s a big win,” Rinne said. “When we you lose games it can get tough on everybody. Considering Tampa Bay is one of the better teams, this is a big win for us. It can give us momentum and energy going forward.’’
Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which lost for the second time on home ice this season in 12 games. Curtis McElhinney fell to 2-3-1 on the season after stopping 22 shots.
“Everybody is like ‘Holy cow you lose a game … or the world’s caving in,’” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I look back at our last two losses. Scoring chances are nearly 2-to-1 and we’ve had some pretty good zone time and we’ve done some good things. We just got beat.’’
Nashville opened the scoring in the second period. Tolvanen got his sixth goal when he converted a wrist shot from the left dot at 3:58 after a cross-ice pass from Ryan Johansen.
Arvidsson made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 9:14. He scored on a one-timer from the left circle from a pass by Erik Haula.
Tampa Bay had a chance to cut into the lead with a power-play opportunity at 11:03, but Brayden Point was unable to knock a sailing puck out of the air inside the blue line. Jarnkrok then skated away for a breakaway to make it 3-0 on his eighth career short-handed goal.
“I think the whole lineup was playing good, playing the right way today,” Jarnkrok said.
Stamkos spoiled Rinne’s bid for his 60th career shutout when a pass intended for Yanni Gourde deflected in off the skate of Dante Fabbro at 10:03 of the third period.
“It’s a hard game and you can’t be perfect for 60 minutes,’’ Lightning center Anthony Cirelli said. “I think if we could limit the turnovers that we had and just fix a couple of things in the zone I think we’ll be alright.’’
Ekholm scored into an empty net with 19.6 seconds left.
ROOKIES RUN WILD
The Predators had dressed six different rookies in the previous three games before Fabbro returned Monday after serving a two-game suspension. But no matter who is in the lineup for Nashville, coach John Hynes said the expectations for the team don’t change.
“We expect our team to play competitively (no matter) who’s in the lineup or who’s not in the lineup,’’ Hynes said. “When you’re winning games, you’re trying to find ways to get better, and when you’re not winning games, it’s no different. But the mentality and the process doesn’t change just because your lineup changes.’’
Tampa Bay started a stretch of five games in seven days with two sets of back-to-backs this week. So the Lightning gave goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who leads the league with 17 victories, the day off. Spencer Martin served as McElhinney’s backup against the Predators.
Lightning: At Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
Predators: At Florida Panthers on Thursday.