TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jonas Johansson made 29 saves in his first start in place of the injured Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nicholas Paul had two third-period power-play goals and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 in the NHL regular-season opener on Tuesday night.
Johansson was signed to be Vasilevskiy’s backup. Vasilevskiy had back surgery two weeks ago and is expected to miss another six to eight weeks.
Brandon Hagel converted a penalty shot, and Nikita Kucherov also scored twice for the Lightning. Brayden Point had three assists.
Nashville’s Juuse Saros stopped 29 shots. Ryan O’Reilly, Juuso Parssinen and Tommy Novak had goals in Andrew Brunette’s debut as Predators coach.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, entering the final season of a $68 million, eight-year contract, had an assist. Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois has said the salary-cap challenged team won’t begin talks on a new deal until after the season.
Novak had a power-play goal at 8:48 before Paul made it 4-3 on a man-advantage goal 2:04 later. Kucherov added an empty-netter.
Parssinen scored 11 seconds into the third period before goals 42-seconds apart by Paul, on the power play, and Hagel put the Lightning up 3-2 at 3:07.
Kucherov scored the lone first-period goal as Tampa Bay had a 13-2 shot advantage.
O’Reilly tied it at 1 during the second period as Nashville outshot the Lightning 14-5.
Nashville center Cody Glass took a point shot by teammate Tyson Barrie off the helmet with 6 minutes left in the second but returned in the third period.
DICKIE V AT THE RINK
College basketball icon Dick Vitale was among a group of Tampa Bay area sports legends taking part in a ceremonial puck drop.
Vitale, on social media Tuesday, said he will have two scopes within the next five days to determine if his 35 radiation treatments “wiped out” his vocal cord cancer.
Hall of Famers joining Vitale on the ice were the NHL’s Phil Esposito and Dave Andreychuk, the NFL’s Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, and MLB’s Wade Boggs and Fred McGriff.
Nine-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Scotty Bowman watched from the press box. The 90-year-old Bowman saw his first NHL game in 1937 when his father, a Montreal Maroons fan, took him to see a game against the Canadiens.
Predators: Host Seattle on Thursday night
Lightning: Play at Detroit on Saturday night.