Predators and Lightning Stadium Series takes to the outdoors for exciting showdown

Predators and Lightning Stadium Series
Feb 9, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) steals the puck from Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

When the puck drops tonight for the Predators and Lighting in the 2022 Stadium Series game, it will be the very first time that the Tampa Bay Lightning will have participated in an outdoor contest.

The two-time defending champions will meet the Nashville Predators at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn.

The Lightning are set to become the 27th franchise to play outside. Only the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and expansion Seattle Kraken have not played in the annual affair.

Predators and Lightning Stadium Series

Steven Stamkos is excited to get outside and enjoy the nostalgic feelings he enjoyed playing outside on the frozen ponds as a kid.

“I mean, my birthday is in February (Feb. 7) so that was the birthday party every year, go to the local pond and have a big shinny game with hot chocolate and pizza and all that stuff,” the Tampa Bay Lightning captain said Friday. “Those were some really great memories for me.”

Steven Stamkos – NHL.com

You have to forgive Stamkos if he feels a little giddy. This is hist first NHL outdoor game in his career.

“That’s pretty cool to be in your 14th season, to be around as long as I have and still get to experience a first,” he said. “That’s pretty special to do at this point in my career. We’re just going to embrace the atmosphere.”

Corey Perry is no stranger to playing outside, In the 2020 Winter Classic at the venerable Cotton Bowl, the host Dallas Stars rallied from a two-goal hole to beat Nashville 4-2 before 85,630 fans on New Year’s Day.

Perry made news in that one but for the wrong reason: The former Star blasted Nashville’s Ryan Ellis with a blow to the head and was given a game misconduct early in the match.

The right winger was apologetic after becoming the first player ejected from an outdoors match.

“This is a big event,” Perry said before ultimately being served with a five-game suspension. “I’m sure he had family in here and I definitely had family here. It’s tough. I just hope he’s OK.”

Smashville ready for outdoor hockey

Predators and Lightning Stadium Series
Dec 2, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; View of the Stadium Series jersey the Nashville Predators will wear when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning in February before the game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators have a chance to match history Saturday night beside the Cumberland River. They will attempt to become the second team in an outdoors contest to defeat the defending Cup champions — only accomplished by the Minnesota Wild over the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016.

Reigning champions are 4-1-0 in the open air.

Mikael Granlund has had a strong week for Nashville, which snapped its four-game losing streak in Tuesday’s 6-4 win at the Florida Panthers, then defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1 in a shootout Thursday on home ice.

Granlund was the offensive star in both. He produced the game-winning tally in South Florida and the only shootout goal against Dallas.

In a pregame ceremony Thursday, the Predators retired their first number ever — Pekka Rinne’s No. 35 — to honor the Finnish goalie, who won the 2018 Vezina Trophy and posted 369 wins and 60 shutouts with the team.

“It’s been a special day obviously for (Pekka), and we all love him so much,” said Granlund, Rinne’s countryman. “But we were able to get those two points and that’s all that matters. I’m just happy for tonight and I’m really happy for (him).”

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–Field Level Media contributed to this article