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Nashville Predators 4, Florida Panthers 1: Revenge in Sunrise

We’re back.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Florida Panthers Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers returned from the break tonight, a welcome end to a long stretch without hockey.

The Predators got off to a solid start, getting some zone time while Colton Sissons, Calle Järnkrok, and Ryan Hartman made it to the net. Then it was the Panthers’ turn, with a couple of excellent chances for Jonathan Huberdeau thwarted by Juuse Saros and the post. Over the first half or so of the first period, the Preds’ bottom six were noticeable in the offensive zone, with a good shift by the fourth line following the early promise from the third.

Finally, the top line got going. Roberto Luongo was kept busy as Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, supported by Ryan Ellis, Ryan Johansen, and Roman Josi, tried to make some goals happen. Luongo was able to make the necessary saves, despite the chaos of the sequence—at one point I think he made a save from flat on his back—and the game continued 0-0.

Unfortunately, a few minutes later, the Predators were called for too many men and the Panthers’ effective power play got their first chance of the night. They spent a lot of their initial possession moving the puck around below the goal line, keeping Saros off balance, instead of blasting away from the point, and followed this up the same way on their second possession. Hopefully whenever we next see the Predators’ power play they will be doing something similar. As it was, the Predators were able to kill off the penalty, thanks to some excellent saves from Saros, and made it back into the offensive zone.

The teams traded chances for the rest of the period, but with just over ten seconds left before intermission P.K. Subban drew a penalty and Mark Pysyk went to the penalty box. The first few seconds of the Preds’ power play were...uninspiring, as the Panthers got possession and got a clear. Despite a few chances once the second period began, the power play was unsuccessful.

A brief interlude of 5v5 play later, Josi took a penalty and the Panthers’ power play got back to work. Somehow, during a sequence during which Järnkrok was controlling the puck in the neutral zone, trying to work it back into the offensive zone shorthanded, the Predators managed to put a fifth skater on the ice, and were once again called for too many men. Saros lost his mask after making a save but remained in the game, and the Predators finished killing that penalty without incident.

Josi, out of the box, went racing into the offensive zone and got tripped by Keith Yandle, ending the Panthers’ power play and putting the teams 4v4. The Predators got into the offensive zone as their abbreviated power play began, but—without having apparently changed their strategy much—didn’t do much with the chance.

Forsberg hit Luongo in the mask at close range with a hard wrister, sending Luongo reeling from the impact; Luongo, like Saros, remained in the net. He proceeded to make a sequence of great saves. A phenomenal sequence by the Panthers’ goalie ended with Arvidsson taking a slashing penalty and the Panthers getting another power play. This time, eventually, they scored, although Saros made some more saves before they did.

The Predators were not able to get the goal back before the end of the period and entered the third trailing, then took another penalty. A few shorthanded chances aside, this was a poor decision; although they were able to keep the Panthers from padding their lead, they also weren’t able to erase that lead—at least, not until the penalty expired, after which the Panthers collectively forgot how to hockey and Josi scored to tie the game at one.

Moments later, Arvidsson gave the Predators a lead, scoring his 20th goal of the season. The period continued with chances for both teams until Josi was called for another penalty, putting the Panthers back on the power play with just under eight and a half minutes remaining in regulation. Forsberg and Johansen got a shorthanded odd-man rush but were unable to convert. Fortunately, neither were the Panthers.

Right after that, Kevin Fiala (!) turned a ridiculously fancy piece of footwork into a goal—the Predators’ third goal of the period, and their third shot on goal of the period as well. With just over three minutes left in regulation, the Panthers pulled Luongo for the extra attacker. Arvidsson scored his second of the night into the empty net, bailing the Predators out of an extended sequence in their own end. Luongo went back into the net and the Panthers continued to attack, but were unable to score again.

Random Observations:

  • Saros’s new pads look good.
  • Has Järnkrok been moved up to center the second line or was that just a shift change? Either way, sigh.
  • Oh hey, hi JOFA.
  • Some kind of line blending is definitely occurring. Bonino and Sissons might’ve been switched?
  • Oh, the Panthers score on the power play pretty much every game, that’s great and fine. Fantastic time to forget how to count.
  • Rocco Grimaldi seems to have called for a pass from a former teammate and gotten it. Incredible.
  • Also, incredible that more players don’t try that. It’s incredibly sneaky, but there’s no way everyone’s too much of a gentleman to try.
  • Saros should have tried the 200-foot shot at the buzzer (no he shouldn’t).
  • Ten pushups for Bobby.
  • I’m listening to the (extremely good) Panthers broadcast tonight and they’ve picked apart the Preds’ entire power play in two minutes of game time. Apparently you don’t even have to be familiar with it to spot the problems.
  • Adventure time for Juuse Saros, yikes.
  • Twenty pushups for Bobby.
  • Saros!
  • Oh neat, I missed that it was the Panthers’ Pride Night game earlier.
  • That looked nasty. I hope Luongo is okay and I’m shocked nobody wanted to check on him before play resumed.
  • Wait, it’s the NHL; I’m not shocked.
  • Luongo is definitely tending goal like a man whose head wasn’t whipping around at the end of his neck a couple of minutes ago, so that’s something, at least.
  • That’s gonna happen if you take a million penalties, guys.
  • Also, ugh, this game started feeling like “next goal wins” a couple minutes into the second.
  • What a breakdown by the Panthers’ defense.
  • Viktor Arvidsson does not agree with my original “next goal wins” hypothesis.
  • I like Goals Filbruary but I have no objection to Assists Filbruary either.
  • Uhhhh I’m feeling less sanguine about Luongo now
  • Oh good, he did make a save. That would have been a nice goal by Arvidsson, but, y’know.
  • Juuse. Saros.
  • Frosties!

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Viktor Arvidsson. I don’t know what we did without him for so long.
  2. Juuse Saros. Just great, start to finish—the only goal he allowed was a shot he was badly screened on.
  3. Roman Josi. Penalties aside, he played a pretty good game at both ends of the ice.

Tweets of the Night:

Also, fellow OTFer Shaun’s family participated in the picture challenge/jersey giveaway contest: