Tampa Bay had its franchise record-tying, six-game winning streak snapped in a 2-1 road loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
Nashville, meanwhile, lost 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday to end its 11-game home unbeaten streak, which tied a franchise high.
The Lightning’s streak enabled them to open up a 13-point lead in the Southeast Division, but after the loss Tuesday, coach John Tortorella sounded as if his team was in last place.
Asked if the law of averages caught up with his team, Tortorella angrily shot back: “No. Not at all. The law of averages says you’d be a .500 hockey team, so you play the game to win every night.
“Back-to-back, how many games, how many you’ve won, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a feel-good thing. We won a few games and you feel good about it, so you lose one and it’s OK. It isn’t OK.”
Prior to Tuesday’s defeat, Nashville hadn’t lost at home since a 2-1 overtime defeat against the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 16. The Predators’ last regulation loss at Gaylord Entertainment Center was a 4-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 11.
Nashville had a chance to pull within six points of first-place Detroit in the Central Division, but the Red Wings scored three goals in the first 6:17 of the second period to pull away.
Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun had been 6-1 in his previous seven starts, and a victory would have tied his career high of 25 victories set last season. But he was pulled after facing just 11 shots.
“I felt pretty good in the first period,” Vokoun said. “They got a couple quick goals, then I was scrambling. You try to do everything perfectly, and that is when you run into trouble.”
STANDINGS (through Feb. 3): Lightning - 63 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Predators - 60 points, 2nd place, 10 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Martin St. Louis, 24 goals, 31 assists and 55 points; Chris Dingman, 117 PIM. Predators - Scott Walker, 16 goals and 37 points; Marek Zidlicky and Kimmo Timonen, 22 assists; Jordin Tootoo, 92 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 3): Lightning - Power play: 14.8 percent (34 for 229), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (153 for 179), 8th. Predators - Power play: 14.7 percent (41 for 278), 23rd. Penalty killing: 82.3 percent (204 for 248), 24th.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Predators, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 25, 2003; Predators, 3-2. At Nashville, Tenn., Walker took a pass from Timonen and poked the puck behind Khabibulin at 9:01 of the second period, and Adam Hall added the winner 1:37 later with a one-timer from the left circle.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 14-10-3-1 on the road; Predators - 17-6-4-1 at home.