TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Colton Sissons called it a “surreal” performance.
Sissons ended a 12-game goal drought with his first career hat trick, Pekka Rinne made 27 saves and the Nashville Predators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 on Thursday night.
“I’ve been struggling to find the back of the net just in general,” Sissons said. “To pop three feels pretty good.”
Tampa Bay pulled its goalie for an extra skater with seven minutes left in the third, and Sissons got his second of the game a minute later before completing the trick from close with three minutes remaining. He entered with two goals this season and seven overall in 78 career games.
“You get rewarded for all the hard work he’s put in,” Predators left wing Filip Forsberg said. “It’s really fun to see and great for him.”
Nashville also got goals from Mike Fisher, Forsberg and Ryan Ellis. Rinne improved to 7-0-1 against Tampa Bay.
Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning, who went 2-2-1 on a five-game homestand. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 13 shots two days after giving up five goals on 33 shots in a 6-4 loss to Winnipeg.
“He’s a young goalie, and eventually he’s going to be a starting goalie in this league,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Hall of fame goaltenders have all gone through this. It’s `How are you going to be next game?’ Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for the next game.”
Vasilevskiy is filling in for Ben Bishop, who is out with a lower-body injury.
Cooper didn’t feel the score indicated the game itself, pointing out that Tampa Bay held a 41-16 advantage in shots that were blocked and missed the net.
“They had 24 blocked shots, that’s a lot,” Cooper said. “I thought we did a lot of good things.”
Fisher had the lone goal in the first, coming on the power play at 2:25. The Predators are 11-0-4 when scoring first. Tampa Bay has allowed the first goal in 26 of 40 games (7-15-4).
Forsberg made it 2-0 before Johnson scored on the power play early in the second, and then Sissons made it 3-1 from the right circle at 13:21.
Ellis made it a 4-1 lead 43 seconds after Sissons scored with a goal that had two reviews.
The original call was no goal because of goalie interference on Viktor Arvidsson, but that was overturned after a Nashville challenge. Tampa Bay then challenged the on-ice call that play was onside, but the review was inconclusive and the goal stood.
The Predators have outscored opponents 50-27 in the second period. The first four Nashville goals came on just eight shots.
Tampa Bay’s Valtteri Filppula and Vladislav Namestnikov were both minus-4.