Nashville Predators (16-15-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (20-11-3)
|Date & Time||Thursday December 19, 2013, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -152 / Nashville Predators +138 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
After a lengthy losing streak the Nashville Predators appear to be finding their game. Three consecutive wins for the Predators before Tuesday night's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks is a good building block for a hockey club that knows the way they need to play in order to be successful. Despite the loss it was good to see the Predators play with the Blackhawks, one of the best teams in the league, for a full 60 minutes. Nashville wasn't dominated by any means and for a club that focuses on protecting their own end sometimes that's a hard thing to avoid against a team that's as talented as Chicago. The Predators are currently 10 points behind the third place Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division and it's going to be very tough for them to make the post season this year with how good the Western Conference is and inconsistent they've been these first few months. Games like the one on Thursday night against an Eastern Conference club are the ones that the Predators can't let get away if they're going to make a serious run in the second half. Tampa Bay has started playing better hockey the past few games as well, winning three of their last four heading into Thursday night's match up. Tuesday night's victory on Long Island is one of the more miraculous victories you'll see this year and the Lightning have veteran Valtteri Filppula to thank for it. With the Lightning trailing 2-0 late in the third period it was Filppula who got them on the board with his 11th goal of the season. Filppula would score the tying goal with just four seconds remaining on the clock to send the game to overtime and leave the Islanders and their fans in shock. After a scoreless overtime session it was Filppula who got the Lightning on the board in the shootout before Nikita Kucherov won it for Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop made 32 saves and really kept his club in the game and gave them a chance to win. Bishop has been such a huge presence in goal for this club and there's no reason the Lightning can't keep this up the rest of the season if they keep getting quality goaltending from Bishop like they have been. On Thursday night we should see a pretty even match up between these clubs so I'll take the team that's getting me plus money in this one.