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Nashville Predators 4, Florida Panthers 3: Fiala Scores Twice, Preds Win Fifth Straight

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Florida brought some warmer weather to Nashville, and that must have done the trick as it woke the Preds’ offense up.

Florida Panthers v Nashville Predators

A flurry of offense finally came back to Nashville on Saturday, as the Predators held off Florida for a 4-3 victory, Nashville’s fifth consecutive win. This helped keep pace in the Central, retaking the division lead from Winnipeg, who briefly held it with a win earlier in the day.

Kevin Fiala kicked things rather quickly, putting the Preds in front just 36 seconds into the contest.

Viktor Arvidsson made his return from a brief stint on injured reserve, meaning two-thirds of the JOFA line were back in action. However, Mattias Ekholm missed the contest due to an apparent illness.

Vincent Trocheck tied the game midway through the first on a power play goal with 8:44 left in the opening period. It was gift-wrapped for him as Rinne had slid across the crease to follow Evgenii Dadonov, who had driven in on him, but lost the puck on the way around the net.

A defensive breakdown led to Florida’s second goal when two defenders pursued Colton Sceviour below the end line, leaving Derek MacKenzie all alone in front of Rinne.

Rinne stopped Dadonov on a breakaway in the final seconds of the first to keep the deficit at one.

A scramble in front of Harri Sateri produced a goal for Nick Bonino to tie the game just 1:24 into the second period. Bonino set up the go-ahead goal for Fiala at the 10:53 mark of the period.

P.K. Subban was apparently practicing for the Hardest Shot competition at the All-Star game later this month, as his laser beam made it 4-2 with 3:31 left in the second.

Rinne was fooled by Keith Yandle with 11:26 left in regulation, as the Panther defenseman put the puck on net from center ice instead of clearing it around the end boards.

In the end, the Predators were able to hold off the Panthers thanks to some aggressive defensive play and some important saves by Rinne.

Random Observations

  • My, that was quick, Kevin. Smashville thanks you for getting them involved so early, unlike the previous effort.
  • Hartnell and Trocheck have a go... had Hartsy connected with that initial straight left, that would have been highlight-worthy. Alas, it wasn’t, and it was really a fight he shouldn’t have taken.
  • Rinne looks to be his usual self early on. That’s good, because Florida put nine shots on him in the first eight minutes as this game has been a more end-to-end affair than Thursday’s roadblock.
  • Slashing strikes again. Salomaki the guilty party. One would think that at this point of the season, they’d learn. But nooooo...
  • Adorable dog gets shown on the video board and a collective “awwww” can be heard from here to Nissan Stadium. I may or may not have been one of those awwws.
  • Rinne must’ve thought Dadonov took the puck with him on a wraparound attempt, because he vacated the right post...while the puck was still there. A birthday gift for Trocheck, even though it’s probably not his birthday.
  • Derek MacKenzie isn’t a goal scorer. Yet he gets one after two defenders chase Colton Sceviour going around the net. It went from an offensive zone faceoff to beating Rinne in a matter of seconds. Very. Ugly. Sequence.
  • Haley and Watson square off the second bout of the night, and it was shorter than the first fight of the undercard tonight. The Panthers must not have liked how that preseason doubleheader went.
  • Huge save by Rinne on Dadonov before the period expired. Preds did not need to go down 3-1 right there.
  • Florida’s challenging for interference on Jarnkrok’s goal, but it looked like Sateri’s own guys were doing the interfering. Blame them.
  • And then they give it to Bonino. Okay, then.
  • McCann goes to the pit of misery for slashing, then returns after two minutes of Preds posturing.
  • Sweet feed from Bonino to set up Fiala’s second goal. Kevin’s certifiably dangerous.
  • They’re getting a lot of traffic in front of Sateri now. Make the new guy work. A lot.
  • Holy crap, what did that puck do to P.K. to deserve that kind of punishment? A laser beam gets the crowd Big Macs and Frosties all in one humongous shot.
  • This third period isn’t ideal with a two-goal lead.
  • Rinne guessed around the boards, and he guessed wrong. Gotta stay in the net a bit longer. Not his best night in decision-making.
  • Kyle Turris, poor guy. Can’t buy a break right now.

Super Duper Stars of the Game

  1. Fiala. A monster in the making.
  2. Jarnkrok. Hard to put somebody with a three-point game at No. 2, but that just how good Fiala was. Calle had himself quite the game and the Preds are better when he’s doing stuff like that.
  3. Bonino. Speaking of three-point games, Bones had his first as a Pred, and I guess Fiala was the elixir he needed.

Postgame Reaction

Fiala on playing with Bonino and Jarnkrok:

“I think everybody worked hard. I think sometimes if it’s new lines, if you’ve never played together once, it can just work. It was just great to play. I enjoyed that. I think both players are great players ... They work hard. I think if you work hard, you get so many more chances. You can get the puck back and create more chances.”

Bonino on the winning streak:

“You’ve just got to be able to win any game, especially when you’ve got a lead going into the third period. As the season goes on and into the playoffs, these are the games you need to win and close out.”

Laviolette on the Fiala-Bonino-Jarnkrok line:

“It was a really good game for Nick back in the middle of the ice. We’ve been moving him at left wing, just moving him around in the lineup a little bit ... I think getting Kevin really helped. Kevin’s on a roll right now with regard to offense. I think whatever line goes on, that line’s a pretty good line.”

Tweets of the Night

Game Extras