Predators vs. Lightning

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Tampa, FL - Steven Stamkos' torrid start has the Tampa Bay Lightning off to one of the best ones in franchise history.

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Stamkos will try to keep up his red-hot scoring pace and lead the Lightning to another win when they welcome the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from online sports book have made the Lightning –160 money line favorites for Sunday's game against the Predators. Current MLB Public Betting Information shows that 61% of more than 625 bets for this game have been placed on the Lightning -160.

After finishing last season tied for the league lead with 51 goals, Stamkos has eight goals and six assists in the first seven games with the Lightning winning five. The former No. 1 overall draft pick recorded his second career hat trick and had an assist in a 5-2 victory in Atlanta on Friday night.

"I know he's going to score some goals, so I'm not surprised," first-year coach Guy Boucher said. "Right now, it's the process of becoming a complete player, and he's on his way to doing that."

Boucher said he put Stamkos on the ice Friday in moments when the team needed a calm presence, but Tampa Bay (5-1-1) might benefit from another frenetic start.

The Lightning scored three first-period goals against the Thrashers with Stamkos tallying one. He assisted on Brett Clark's opening score and captain Vincent Lecavalier added another.

"The one focus we had was that we were going to play a five-minute game," Boucher said. "We were going to play the first five minutes like it was the last five minutes to win the championship. I think we came out strong and our leaders did everything they could to make sure all the guys were on the same page."

They'll face a Predators team that's averaging 2.43 goals but has relied in large part on defense to remain the only team without a regulation loss (4-0-3).

After his team suffered three consecutive overtime defeats at home, Pekka Rinne made 30 saves to lead Nashville to a 1-0 victory in Dallas on Saturday night.

"We looked at it as a big challenge," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We knew we were going to need a big goaltending performance out of Pekka, and we got it."

That performance lowered the Predators' average goals allowed to 2.00 this season and gave them their second road win in as many tries. Like Tampa Bay a day earlier, Nashville got off to a strong start with Cal O'Reilly scoring his first goal of the season just 42 seconds in.

"We played a good road period," Trotz said. "We kept the fans quiet. We said if we were going to win this game, it would have to be 1-0 or 2-1. So it was huge, getting that goal."

The Predators now will try to win two straight from the Lightning for the first time. On Dec. 15, Trotz's team scored five times in the second period, and set a season-high for goals with a 7-4 victory that snapped a four-game skid against Tampa Bay.

Nashville, though, has not won in five straight trips to the St. Pete Times Forum, including a 4-1 loss in 2008. Since winning their inaugural game there, the Predators are 0-3-0 with two ties.

Nashville is trying to start 3-0 on the road for the second time in franchise history and first since 2005-06.

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