Fueled by first period goals from Chris Mueller and Ryan Thang, the Nashville Predators rookies weren't deterred by a short turnaround and defeated the Florida Panthers rookie squad for the second time in less than 14 hours by a 5-1 final this afternoon at the Coral Springs Incredible IcePlex in Sunrise, FL.
Mueller lead the way for the Predators today with two goals, while Anders Lindback (21 saves) and Chet Pickard split goaltending duties and continued to shine holding the Panthers to a single goal in the two game series.Chris Mueller opened scoring for the Predators just 5:19 into the first period trickling a shot through the pads of Florida netminder Jacob Markstrom off a feed from Mark Santorelli behind the net. Austin Watson also got on the scoresheet for the first time in the series picking up the second assist on the goal. After the game settled down for a while, Ryan Thang sent the Predators to the locker room with a 2-0 lead beating Markstrom with a shot from the wing with 4:30 remaining in the period on assists from Ryan Ellis and Taylor Beck.
Trailing 2-0 for the second game in a row with time running down in the first period, Panthers rookie Brady Calla squared off with Michael Latta in an attempt to change the momentum of the game. However, things didn't get much better from there for the Panthers.
Just 39 seconds into the second period Chris Mueller got on the board for the second time today staking the Predators to a 3-0 lead after finishing a pass from Roman Josi on a 2 on 1 odd man rush. Gabriel Bourque proceeded to put the game totally into the Predators control putting a fourth puck past Markstrom at the 5;59 mark of the 2nd period after an odd rebound off the end boards from a Michael Latta shot came into the slot for Bourque to hammer home.
Again, with Florida looking to gain any traction possible heading into the locker room, a fight broke out with 5.9 seconds remaining in the 2nd period between Blake Geoffrion and Erik Gudbranson with Gudbranson sending Geoffrion down to the ice with an upper cut in what was described as a "wild affair" by those in attendance.
The third period saw less scoring, but the goal of the day came from Taylor Beck as he made a great individual play driving in on Markstrom and sliding the puck through his legs for an unassisted goal to give the Predators a 5-0 lead approximately 7 minutes into the final frame. Corey Durocher finally got the Panthers on the board breaking the Predators streak of 116:25 of shutout action tipping a shot from Colby Robak past Chet Pickard with 3:35 remaining in the game.
Roman Josi and Gabriel Bourque scored for the Predators in the exhibition 5 player shootout at the end of the game and Chet Pickard went 5 for 5 to lead the Predators to another victory on the ice today.
All in all, it was a great trip to Florida for the Nashville rookies to get the season started outscoring the Panthers 10-1 in two games and winning both exhibition shootouts. Obviously, there is concern over the status of Linus Klasen who received a vicious blow to the head in last night's action and was held out of today's game, but overall it was a very impressive display of the talent in the Predators pipeline.
Unfortunately for the rookies, they are flying back to Nashville today and are scheduled to take the ice for the on-ice portion of the camp physicals beginning at 6 AM tomorrow morning!
Taylor Beck lead the Predators with 3 goals and 4 points in the two game series. Ryan Ellis (1 goal, 2 assists), Chris Mueller (2 goals, 1 assist), and Blake Geoffrion (1 goal, 2 assists) also finished among the scoring leaders with three points each in the series. 11 different players for Nashville got on the score sheet against Florida. Anders Lindback lead the way in goal for the Predators stopping all 45 shots he faced in relegation, but allowed the lone shootout goal to Panthers rookie John McFarland in the exhibition Wednesday night, while Chet Pickard stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced and was perfect in the shootout.