Teams who were expected to compete for a Stanley Cup when the season began, but are still seeking consistency, meet Tuesday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Nashville Predators. The Predators, who own at least a point in 12 straight games in the series (10-0-2), saw their four-game point streak end with a 3-0 loss at Florida on Saturday and the Lightning have followed a 6-2-0 run with three consecutive one-goal losses, including Saturday's 3-2 setback against Carolina.
Nashville got off to a strong 9-4-2 start before struggling through a six-game losing streak and seemed to be putting things together with back-to-back wins over reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis during a 3-0-1 run, but could not break through in Florida. "It's a statement for us that we've been playing good hockey, but we're not there yet, and this is a good example of it," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis told reporters. "We can't take a night off, we can't take a step back, and it's a good wake-up call that we have to bring our A-game every night to be successful in this league." Tampa Bay averaged 4.5 goals during a 10-game stretch to put its season back on good footing, but came up short against St. Louis at home before coughing up a two-goal lead in an overtime loss at Washington on Friday and giving up three in the first period one night later in the setback versus the Hurricanes. "There are a lot of details we can be better at and we need to be better at," Lightning forward Yanni Gourde told reporters. "It is frustrating? Yes, but these are things that we can fix. We have to keep battling hard."
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ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (12-9-3): Brayden Point, who missed the first three games of the season while finishing his recovery from double hip surgery, has warmed up with six goals in his last six games to take over the team lead with 10. Right wing Nikita Kucherov had 17 points in 11 November games after managing 11 in 12 October contests and leads the team with 28 after recording an assist Saturday. Mikhail Sergachev has all three of his goals in the last six contests and shares the team lead with fellow defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (five goals, 19 points) with a plus-9 rating.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (12-10-4): Veteran Pekka Rinne, who was rested Saturday after ending a slump with a shutout at Carolina on Friday, is likely to get the call against Tampa Bay as he goes for his 351st career victory. Defenseman Roman Josi leads the team with 24 points after posting four assists in the past six contests and center Matt Duchene, who did not play in Nashville's 3-2 overtime win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 26, is next with 20. Ellis had the winning goal in that contest and boasts 19 points while centers Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino top the team with 10 goals apiece.
1. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman finished with 13 points in 11 November games and is second on the team with 22.
2. Nashville C Kyle Turris, a healthy scratch for the last seven games, reportedly skated with the top 12 forwards Monday.
3. Lightning LW Alex Killorn is questionable and D Braydon Coburn out indefinitely with lower-body injuries.