NASHVILLE — Leading into a night the Lightning had been anticipating for months, players kept telling themselves the most important part of competing in the franchise’s first outdoor game was coming home with two points.
But Saturday night’s Stadium Series game against the Predators at the NFL Titans’ Nissan Stadium proved to be no ordinary regular-season game. Even after hoisting the Stanley Cup the past two seasons, playing overseas and possessing a star-studded lineup, the Lightning had never really been in a showcase event like this one.
The atmosphere for the Lightning’s 3-2 win seemed more like a Super Bowl, fitting for an NFL stadium. Big-name musical acts playing during breaks in play. Fireworks lit up the sky. The game drew a prime-time weekend national TV slot.
“You always dream of winning a Stanley Cup,” coach Jon Cooper said. “But being able to play one of these games, you’re checking one off the bucket list there. They’re just a remarkable show.
“It’s a show, and I know one team wins the game. But I don’t know how anybody in the end can leave on a downer after the event that was put on. … It definitely doesn’t feel like (just) Game 51 (of the season).”
After holding a pair of boat parades the past two years to celebrate their Cup victories, the Lightning (34-11-6) know how to celebrate. They were set on taking a postgame victory lap through the bars…