Nashville Predators 1, Florida Panthers 4: Home streak snapped as Preds’ offense stifled

The Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers both entered tonight looking to build off a comeback win against a team out of playoff contention; only one team would be able to manage it.

The Panthers got out to a strong early start, getting some chances and setting up in the Preds’ zone. Alexandre Carrier was goaded into taking a penalty, then lost his stick while Luke Kunin tripped over a Panthers player, and before the Preds could regain possession and get the whistle Carter Verhaeghe was able to score.

However, moments later, Ryan Johansen evened the score. A good play by Carrier and a better behind-the-net pass from Filip Forsberg allowed him to tie the game at 1. The Preds continued to push, with Matt Duchene getting a good chance of his own, but the score remained level.

The momentum they were building was interrupted when Mattias Ekholm took a cross-checking penalty against Claude Giroux, and the Panthers’ five-forward power play took the ice. While the Panthers were able to apply some pressure, the Preds were able to kill the penalty off and go back on the attack.

A hard hit by Radko Gudas on Nick Cousins resulted in Luke Kunin dropping the gloves with Gudas. Kunin fairly soundly lost the fight, and also was assessed an instigator penalty for his role, putting the Preds shorthanded again. Juuse Saros and Mattias Ekholm both had to do some significant work while shorthanded, and the Preds were able to kill the penalty off.

As Philip Tomasino, serving the two-minute penalty for Kunin, left the box, the Panthers got another fantastic chance, and Patric Hornqvist took a swing at Saros as the Preds’ goalie made the save. A scuffle broke out, but no further penalties were assessed.

With half a minute left in the period, Roman Josi drew a hooking penalty from Anton Lundell, and the Preds got their first time with the extra skater. The Preds went into intermission still with the player advantage, and started the second with Saros having to make a massive shorthanded save on Jonathan Huberdeau, in 2-on-0 after a takeaway.

Forsberg rang iron twice and Spencer Knight’s mask once before the power play ended, but was unable to score. The Panthers got their skates back under them, pushing back a little more as the teams traded zone time, but Forsberg counterattacked with another phenomenal chance after a steal.

Knight was able to make the save, and the Panthers came back the other way. Halfway through the period, the Preds got some help as a Mackenzie Weegar shot pinged off two posts and out.

A little later, Hornqvist boarded Matt Duchene with clear intent, but despite John Hynes’s objections it was only called as a two-minute penalty. Despite some good looks, the Preds were unable to convert. While the Preds had a brief spark of momentum even after the power play ended, the Panthers took the momentum back, and with a little under five minutes left in the period Anton Lundell scored with a perfectly-placed shot to make it 2-1 Panthers.

The second period ended, and the third began. The Panthers once again started the period off strongly, and drew a penalty from Kunin—apparently wanting to return to the box after finally being released in the second—but the Preds were able to kill it off. Roman Josi had a fantastic chance, and later so did Forsberg and Duchene, but the Preds really struggled to get any offense going for enough of the period to seal their fate.

After killing the Kunin penalty they finally did start to get some momentum going, but the Panthers were able to limit their effectiveness and Knight continued to make some fantastic saves. Late in the period the Preds pulled Saros, and despite a full-body block from Josi that saved one goal, Huberdeau was able to follow it up by scoring to make it 3-1 with 1:07 remaining. The Panthers scored a second empty-net goal seventeen seconds later on a clear.