March 25, 2015

Consecutive road losses by a total of six goals might have humbled Tampa Bay, but that seems easily correctable with it returning to a home winning streak that's nearing the level of its franchise record from last season.

The Lightning begin a four-game homestand Friday night against the Nashville Predators, who conversely should be eager to try to continue an impressive road winning streak after a sluggish homestand.

Tampa Bay (29-20-4) fell 4-2 in Montreal on Tuesday following Monday's 5-1 defeat in Ottawa to match its two-game high for goals allowed.

"We were leaky tonight," coach Jon Cooper said. "When you're a little bit leaky, you're not getting the bounces you were getting in the past and we definitely have to tighten that up. It's been a little bit alarming."

It came on the heels of a three-game homestand that pushed its winning streak in Tampa to eight - two shy of matching their record-setting streak from Dec. 11, 2014-Jan. 31, 2015. The Lightning may have been leaky on the quick road trip, but they've scored 3.50 goals per game on the home streak. They've also won 10 of their last 13 games overall.

"We're not going to panic over 48 hours," Cooper said. "This is a humbling league. You can't get comfortable at any time. There's no panic mode for us."

It might be easier to reassure themselves of that if Steven Stamkos could get going. The 26-year-old has scored once in his last 10 games, though he did have a goal in the first meeting with Nashville.

The Predators opened the season series with a 5-4 shootout win in Nashville on Oct. 20 behind two goals and an assist from James Neal. The forward has seven goals and eight assists on a personal nine-game winning streak against the Lightning, but the first seven came with Pittsburgh. His current team has been about as good with wins in seven of eight against Tampa Bay, including four straight.

The Predators (25-21-8) are following up a 1-3-0 homestand with the trip to Tampa followed by a stop in Florida, and they're doing so with a shot at their first five-game road winning streak since 2009-10. Their coach, however, isn't concerned with whom Nashville is facing or where.

"We need to win games, whether it's the top team or somebody in the division or somebody that's not in the playoffs right now," Peter Laviolette told the team's official website. "We have to collect points."

That'll be easier with a better defensive-zone presence after the Predators gave up 13 goals in their last three games on the homestand, including Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Washington.

"We made a couple of bad mistakes," Laviolette said. "You can't leave opportunities that are coming across the crease, uncovered men. We need to do a better job in that area. There weren't a lot of them, but the ones that did happen, we need to do a better job."

At the other end, Filip Forsberg scored twice and has three goals and two assists in his last two games.

Both teams' No. 1 goaltenders could use a bounce-back effort. Nashville's Pekka Rinne has a 4.03 goals-against average and .831 save percentage over a 1-2-0 span, while Ben Bishop has 3.32 and .893 marks over a 2-2-0 period.

Bishop has won his last four home games with a .940 save percentage, but he's 0-2-1 with 3.98 and .862 marks lifetime against the Predators.

Rinne has won his last three road starts with a goal allowed in each and a .963 save percentage, and he's won all three of his games against the Lightning.

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