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Nashville Predators 7, Florida Panthers 3: Preds bounce back in matinee W

The Nashville Predators entered the dreaded Saturday matinee game against the Florida Panthers, after a bruising loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. They managed a huge win in style against a skilled and desperate team, amply rewarding the fans who showed up.

Tommy Novak got the scoring started early, opening his first shift of the game by capitalizing on some determined possession by Roman Josi to put the Preds up 1-0 at 2:36. Josi kept the puck alone while the rest of the Preds changed; good to see the effort rewarded.

Unfortunately, the Panthers got it back moments later, as former Pred Nick Cousins got a shot past Kevin Lankinen at 7:55 to tie the game 1-1. Matthew Tkachuk then scored again to give the Panthers the lead at 12:09, shaking off Jeremy Lauzon along the way to collect a great pass from Brandon Montour.

Less than a minute later, though, Matt Duchene got Sergei Bobrovsky out of position and put his own rebound home to tie the game again, 2-2. Chris Tierney was called for hooking just after that, and the Preds got a chance on their struggling power play. It paid off, with the penalty almost expired, as Ryan Johansen collected a pass from Josi to restore the Preds’ lead at 15:01.

Mikael Granlund hit the post on a breakaway with minutes left in the first period, but the Preds got another power play shortly after, as Ryan Lomberg accidentally whacked Duchene in the face with his stick. This power play was interrupted by intermission, with no score either before or after the break.

7:40 into the second, Colton Sissons scored top-shelf on a breakaway to make it 4-2, and Bobrovsky headed off in favor of Spencer Knight. Just after that, Tanner Jeannot was called for holding, putting the Panthers on the power play for the first time all night. The Preds were able to kill it off, then got back on the attack.

Josi scored a goal of his own at 16:23, a long shot from the blueline while a Panthers skater was replacing a broken stick. Nashville finished the period strong, continuing to push, and did more of the same as the third began.

The Panthers, already down one defender after Radko Gudas was injured earlier in the game, lost Grigori Denisenko to a boarding penalty at 7:47. Josi had to make an alert play to break up an Aleksander Barkov shorthanded chance, and the Preds were rewarded for that—and some hard work by Phil Tomasino—with their second power-play goal of the game, scored by Novak to make it 6-2.

A physical shift by Juuso Pärssinen, ending in a questionable hit, drew some ire from Josh Mahura; both players took a seat for unsportsmanlike conduct, with an additional two minutes for Pärssinen for boarding. Sam Reinhart scored almost immediately, tipping a Barkov shot to cut the Preds’ lead to 6-3 at 10:12.

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice pulled Knight with over seven minutes remaining in the third—a bold strategy, but a necessary one to try to make up a three-goal deficit. Granlund missed the empty net by inches early, but Yakov Trenin managed to score into it with 5:46 remaining to make it 7-3.

Juuso Pärssinen appeared to add an eighth on the next shift, but it was called back for offside. The Preds continued to attack, pushing to get that eighth goal back, but Knight was up to the task and the game ended with the Preds merely having scored seven—two more than they’ve scored the rest of the month combined.

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