Recap: Preds win but, more importantly, Mazanec rebounds

Nashville, TN, United States / The Game Nashville

In the pre-season, the result doesn’t matter as much as the evaluation of the players, the lines and the strategies.

But, it never hurts to get a win.

The Nashville Predators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 1-0, on Thursday night in front of 13,107 at Bridgestone Arena. Filip Forsberg scored Nashville’s only goal and Pekka Rinne stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first half of the game for the victory.

The Preds went 0-for-5 on the power play but looked outstanding regardless. The addition of James Neal and Mike Ribeiro was very evident as those two seemed to be in each other’s head most of the night, especially on the man advantage.

“I thought the power play, in the first game, seemed to move a little better but didn’t have the possession time,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Tonight, we had the possession time but didn’t get the chances that we were looking for. All of that will come.”

The opening frame was owned by the Preds. Sure, Tampa had nine shots on goal but only a couple of them were of the difficult variety. Nashville, on the other hand, seemingly spent the entire period on the attack and fired 13 shots at Gudlevskis. They would break through when Ribeiro made a tremendous play to keep the puck in the offensive zone. His efforts on the forecheck resulted in a sweet move by Filip Forsberg to put the Preds ahead 1-0.

“It was a really good play,” Forsberg said. “Usually when you come in high-speed at goalies, they tend to go pretty hard at you. So you have to keep yourself calm and go around them. I was lucky to put it in this time.”

That goal was the only offense the team would provide but that was all the offense the team would need as the Nashville goaltenders stood tall.

Mazanec, who was looking for a strong outing in particular, relieved Rinne with 7:45 remaining in the second period. He ended up turning aside all 10 shots he faced.

“I really needed this one,” Mazanec said. “We won the game and I didn’t allow any goals so I’m really happy right now.”

The Czech netminder has not had a strong camp thus far. He looked shaky in the final rookie tournament game – his only action of the three-game tournament – and had a frustrating outing on Tuesday night when he allowed three goals on just 15 shots.

“It was an opportunity for him to go back in after what he probably thought was a tough game down in Tampa,” Laviolette said. “He played great tonight. Coming off the bench, that’s tough to get into the game sometimes but he was sharp as soon as he got into the net. And he finished it all the way through.”

Mazanec is expected to be the starting goaltender for Nashville’s top minor league affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, when the season starts.

The Predators will now focus on their double header against the visiting Florida Panthers on Saturday. The first game starts at 3:00pm Central and the second puck drops at 7:00pm.

***

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 5:22 left in regulation):
1. Filip Forsberg (NSH)
2. Mike Ribeiro (NSH)
3. Kristers Gudlevskis (TB)

THE THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1. Filip Forsberg (NSH)
2. Mike Riberio (NSH)
3. Kristers Gudlevskis (TB)

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