The Florida Panthers got out of Nashville with a split against the host Predators thanks to rookie Mike Matheson's game-winning goal in the NHL's new 3-on-3 overtime format as both teams opened their preseason schedules yesterday in the Music City.
Predators 5, Panthers 2
Nashville blitzed the Cats in the afternoon game, jumping out to a 4-0 lead en route to an easy 5-2 win.
Filip Forsberg opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 13:43 of the first period. Pontus Aberg and Ryan Ellis collected the helpers.
Vladislav Kamenev beat Florida starter Mike McKenna 3:13 later with the assists going to Ellis and Mikka Salomaki.
Roman Josi scored early in the second period from Austin Watson and Paul Gaustad to extend Nashville's lead to three.
Colin Stevens would enter the game for the Cats at the start of the third period and surrendered a goal to the dangerous Forsberg at the 8:25 mark. Ellis picked up his third assist of the game and Josi collected his second point on the power-play marker.
Connor Brickley, continuing his fine play from the Estero Rookie Tournament, finally got the Panthers on the board with a power-play goal with 6:30 left in the tilt. The lone assist went to defenseman Brent Regner.
Forsberg contined to bedevil the Cats, setting up Colton Sissons for a power-play goal 2:11 later for his third point of the afternoon.
Jussi Jokinen closed out the scoring, tallying a power-play goal from Brandon Pirri and Alex Petrovic at 16:44.
McKenna took the loss for Florida, finishing with 16 saves on 19 shots. Stevens stopped 8 of the 10 shots he faced in relief.
Nashvillle starter Carter Hutton stopped all eight shots he faced to get the win, while backup Marek Mazanec turned away 10 of 12 shots.
Panthers 3, Predators 2 (OT)
Florida allowed Nashville to jump out to an early lead again, but this time the Cats were able to rally and pick up the win in overtime.
Taylor Aronson and Mike Fisher beat Al Montoya 1:37 apart early in the first period to give the Predators a 2-0 lead after just 3:43 of action.
Aronson's goal was assisted by Max Gortz and Max Reinhart, while Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok set up Fisher's tally.
The Panthers struck back quickly, with pivot Aleksander Barkov beating Pekka Rinne on the backhand at the eight-minute mark from rookie first-rounder Lawson Crouse and Vincent Trocheck.
The game settled into a goaltending duel, with no goals until Shane Harper lit the lamp with 2:17 remaining in regulation time. Harper's slap shot beat Juuse Saros and was assisted by former Minnesota Golden Gophers Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau.
Florida made short work of Nashville in overtime, with Harper and Rau combing to set up Matheson for the game-winner at 2:05 of the extra session
Montoya overcame a shaky start to finish the game with 18 saves on 20 shots. Sam Brittain stopped all 9 shots he faced to get the win in relief.