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It was good to go up there and win a couple games

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TAMPA www.officialducks.com , Fla. — An early season battle of league titans takes place on Thursday when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Nashville Predators.Tampa Bay and Nashville each enter the season with Stanley Cup aspirations. Both sit atop their divisions through the first month of action.The Lightning ended October with a record of 8-2-1 and hold a plus-11 goal differential while sitting on top of the Atlantic. The Predators start November with a 9-3 record, plus-13 goal differential and a perfect 5-0 record on the road while leading the Central.Article continues below ...Nashville received a boost on Wednesday when reigning Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Pekka Rinne was activated off injured reserve and joined the team for the trip to Tampa. Rinne has missed five games since colliding with teammate Kevin Fiala during a game on Oct. 15. The Predators did not practice before leaving town, so there was no indication whether Rinne would start the game against the Lightning.Backup Juuse Saros has been handling the load in Rinne’s absence, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.62 goal against average and .917 save percentage while starting all five games, including Tuesday’s 4-1 victory against Vegas.“He’s carrying this team,” Rinne recently told The Tennessean. “He’s playing great hockey. He’s been doing an amazing job. First of all, we have a good tandem and a good relationship. It starts from there.“At the same time, I feel really good when there’s bumps and bruises Anaheim Ducks T-Shirts Authentic , you can take your time to heal.”The Lightning, meanwhile, have picked up points in eight of the past nine games and come off an 8-3 trouncing of the New Jersey Devils as five different players recorded at least three points, led by Brayden Point who had a goal and four assists.“Pointer just controls the game with his speed. He’s all over the ice,” defenseman Braydon Coburn said. “He’s got the puck. He supports the puck. He’s on top of guys. He’s so tight defensively, and I think it frustrates offensive guys. When he gets the puck, he’s gone. He’s gone. He takes advantage offensively. He uses his speed to make space and chances for himself and his teammates.”Tampa Bay continues to be without the services of Norris Trophy defenseman Victor Hedman, who will miss his third consecutive game with an undisclosed upper-body injury suffered on Oct. 26. But in his absence Anaheim Ducks Hoodies Authentic , the Lightning defense have chipped in on the offense. In Tuesday’s victory against New Jersey, Ryan McDonagh and Coburn combined for three goals and six points, with Coburn adding his second career multi-goal game and first since Oct. 31, 2009.“We see his skill in practice and in the games all the time, so I don’t think we are too surprised to see him put the puck in the net,” Point said of Coburn. NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville coach Peter Laviolette pulled out a bull’s head to lighten the grind of the 82-game NHL regular season and challenge the Predators to get a couple of road wins.Win both games in western Canada, and Laviolette would put on the bull’s head while talking to reporters.The Predators won both contests Anaheim Ducks Hats Authentic , beating Calgary 5-3 and shutting out the Oilers in Edmonton 3-0 on Saturday night.So Laviolette put on the bull’s head.“Guys want to have fun at the end of the day,” Laviolette said Monday. “When there’s a couple minutes left in the game and Roman (Josi) finally puts in the empty netter and they’re laughing at me and calling for Bushwhacker at the press conference you know I’m in trouble. So like I said, it was fun. It was good to go up there and win a couple games and just have some fun.”This isn’t the first time, and likely not the last, that Laviolette has offered up a quirky challenge to his Predators. Last season, Laviolette and his coaches wore Christmas suits during a game just before the holiday.Laviolette’s wife, Kristen, spotted the bull’s head at a store and brought it home knowing her husband would use it somehow. The bull’s head reminded Laviolette of the famed rodeo bull Custom Anaheim Ducks Jerseys , Bushwhacker.“He goes into teams’ buildings and he dismantles people,” Laviolette said of the now-retired Bushwhacker. “And we needed that type of an effort going up into western Canada.”Credit Josi the captain with figuring out that Laviolette would wear the bull’s head while talking to reporters if the Predators won both games.With the victories, the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners sit atop both the Central Division and the NHL with 14 points and a 7-1 record having won five straight games.“When he tried it on, everybody was laughing because it actually moved with his mouth, which was pretty sick,” forward Filip Forsberg said. “So yeah, he’s a man of his word. Everybody appreciated that.” Defenseman P.K. Subban was among those who shot video of Laviolette wearing the head, and photos were on the wall inside the locker room Monday with the coach wearing the head and giving a thumb’s up beside goalie Juuse Saros. Two more photos show Laviolette talking with reporters.“Everybody got a good kick out of it www.officialcoyotes.com ,” Subban said. “I think professional sports sometimes can be a little too serious, so it’s always nice when you can have some fun like that with your coach.”Laviolette has made it very clear he will never wear the bull’s head again.“He’s done, he’s retired,” Laviolette said after practice Monday. “He won’t be coming back.”