Chris Driedger made 27 saves in his first NHL start to backstop the Florida Panthers to a big 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators that snapped a three-game losing streak and kept the club in second place in the Atlantic Division.
The 25-year-old, making his first-ever appearance with Florida and fourth overall in the bigs, and his mates made head coach Joel Quenneville look like a genius after he quickly inserted the goaltender into the lineup after his recall from Springfield following Wednesday’s loss to the Washington Capitals.
On the other end of the ice, defenseman Anton Stralman scored his first two goals as a Panther to put the Cats up by two before Aleksander Barkov went top shelf. far post from in tight from Evgenii Dadonov and Keith Yandle to clinch it with 8:51 remaining in regulation.
Stralman moved in to pound the rebound of Colton Sceviour’s shot by Nashville starter Juuse Saros 1:06 into the middle frame to open the scoring for his first of the season, second assist to Noel Acciari, and then scored again 8:38 into the third when he moved down from the blue line to convert a nifty little backhand pass from a hard-working Vincent Trocheck, who poked the puck away from Saros behind the net.
Dredger’s shutout was the first in Panthers history for a goalie making his first NHL start and the 37th time in NHL history that’s happened.
This was exactly the type of win the Cats needed after giving 13 goals during the losing streak. A very composed-looking Driedger benefited from good team defense and displayed some nice rebound control during the game.
The Cats will host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Look for Driedger to be the in the net again. He earned it.
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Claws and Fangs
- The Panthers swept the season series against the Predators, although Nashville did pick up a point in October’s shootout loss, and became the first team to blank them in 2019-2020.
- Anton’s Stralman’s two-goal game was the fourth of his career, and his first since December 16, 2017, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- Evgenii Dadonov’s assist on Aleksander Barkov’s goal was the 100th helper of his NHL career. Barkov tied Jonathan Huberdeau for the team scoring lead with 31 points.
- MacKenzie Weegar posted a +2 rating in 19:49 TOI after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.
- Filip Forsberg finished with a game-high seven shots on goal, but could not solve Chris Driedger.
- Juuse Saros was also very good in this game. He made 24 saves, many of which were pretty high quality.
- From more on Florida’s thirteenth win of the season, read the other side at On The Forecheck.