On Friday night, the Nashville Predators began their current road trip in Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the first time in a while, the Preds scored first as Mike Fisher (8) got Nashville on the board at 9:40 of the first period.

The second period was dominated on the scoreboard by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning squad was able to get two goals in the second period of play from J.T. Brown (7) and Nikita Kucherov (22) to take a 2-1 lead.

The third period was controversial, especially at the end. The Preds would regain the lead in Florida with two goals at the beginning of the third period. James Neal (20) was able to tie the game at 4:01 and Filip Forsberg (18) scored at 7:46 to give Nashville a 3-2 lead.

All was looking up for Nashville until a phantom slashing call on Viktor Arvidsson against Steven Stamkos at 17:36. With only 27 seconds to play, Stamkos was able to tie the game and send it into overtime. Tyler Johnson (8) scored at 1:04 to give Tampa Bay a 4-3 win in overtime against Nashville.

Keys to Watch

Ups and Downs

The Nashville Predators seem to not be able to put together a string of consistent performances recently. If the Preds get a strong offensive effort, the defense struggles. If the defense has a strong effort, they can’t produce enough offense. If both the offense and the defense do well, Pekka Rinne gives up a late goal to lose it. The team has seen ups and downs this season. The next question is will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. If they can’t get it together, look for some movement.

Success against Florida

The Predators have seen recent success against the Florida Panthers. In the last ten games, Nashville is 7-2-1, yet the last four games have been one-goal games. In the history between the two organizations, the Preds hold a 11-8-4 record advantage against the Panthers. In their last, and only other outing this season, the Panthers held on to a 2-1 lead due to a superhuman performance by Roberto Luongo in Nashville. Luongo has a record of 24-13-5 on the season with a .927 save percentage and 2.23 goals against average. Don’t expect an exorbitant amount of goals in this game. If history is any indication, I wouldn’t expect more than five goals between both teams.

Rinne or Hutton

The Predators did not hold a morning skate today. As this article is being produced, the Predators have not officially announced a starter for tonight’s game in Florida. Look for Carter Hutton to be the starter tonight. Rinne has not been himself this year. With an accumulation of problems this season, look for Hutton to play a more important role on this team. On the season, Hutton has a better goal-against average (2.36 GAA) and save percentage (.916 SV%).

Be sure to catch all of the action as the Preds look to get three out of four total points in Florida on this two-game road trip in the Sunshine State. Fox Sports-Tennessee will be carrying the game at 6:00 pm or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game.