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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)

Nashville Predators (16-15-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (20-11-3), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning know they were fortunate to come away with a victory last time out. Still, they return home having won three of their last four games and seek another victory on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.

Having split the first two contests of a three-game road trip, the Lightning found themselves trailing the New York Islanders by two goals with less than three minutes left in regulation during Tuesday's meeting on Long Island.

However, Valtteri Filppula scored twice late and had one of two Tampa Bay shootout goals in a 3-2 victory, with Nikita Kucherov notching the deciding tally in the tiebreaker and Ben Bishop ending with 32 saves.

"We passed up too many shots tonight, but the boys stuck with it and we probably stole a couple points tonight," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

Filppula got the comeback started when he scored with a wrister from the right slot with 2:53 on the clock, then converted on a backhander with Bishop pulled and just 3.8 ticks remaining in regulation.

J.T. Brown and Martin St. Louis assisted on Filppula's 12th goal of the season.

"The first goal I got was a lucky one," Filppula said. "I was surprised I got the puck, but I was happy it went in. On the second one there was a lot of guys in front of the net and I just stayed out of the pile hoping the puck would make its way out and to me."

Tampa Bay is 4-1-2 over its last seven games and could have defenseman Victor Hedman back in the lineup for the first time in seven games. He has been out with a lower-body injury.

The Predators were not as lucky last time out, having a three-game win streak snapped with a 3-1 loss to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

Shea Weber had a first-period goal and Nashville logged 17 shots in the opening frame, but still came out of the period down a goal and only managed 11 shots the rest of the way.

"I thought we had a real good first period, maybe one of our better first periods of the year and we're down 2-1. That's ironic how it is," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "They're a good, high-executing team."

Carter Hutton had yielded just four goals in total over the three-game win streak, but yielded three on 27 shots faced Tuesday.

Hutton was backed up versus the Blackhawks by Magnus Hellberg after Marek Mazanec missed the contest due to illness. Hellberg has since been returned to the minors, though the rookie Hutton is still likely to make his first career start versus the Lightning.

Bishop, who is 11-2-0 with a 1.90 goals against average in 13 starts at home this season, has never faced the Predators.

Nashville has won three in a row over the Lightning, but is 2-3-0 with two ties in seven all-time games at Tampa. The Preds did win their most recent trip there, 4-3 on Oct. 24, 2010.

12/19 11:52:11 ET

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