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Recap: Rustier Panthers fall 4-1 to Predators

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Third period woes resurface post break

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

The Florida Panthers, minus Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann, were dropped 4-1 by the visiting Nashville Predators in their first game back after the All-Star break.

Florida entered the third period with a 1-0 lead thanks to Jonathan Huberdeau’s power-play goal 15:15 into the second period, only to see the Predators reel off four-straight goals in the third to snap the tie.

Huberdeau, who caught the post in the first period and was denied by Juuse Saros’ glove soon after, finally opened scoring when he took a pass from Keith Yandle in the left circle and snapped a quick shot by Saros. Evgenii Dadonov drew the second helper for collecting a loose puck after Mike Hoffman’s one-timer attempt was blocked.

Roman Josi evened the score when his shot from just above the left circle found the back of the net at 5:29 of the middle frame. Filip Forsberg hit Josi with a crossing pass and the defenseman waited a beat before picking the top corner on Roberto Luongo’s glove side. Ryan Johansen started the play after picking off a backhand clear by Mark Pysyk.

Viktor Arvidsson, who missed wide on a partial breakaway in the first, put the Predators on top 2:15 later when he took a drop pass from Forsberg, after Yandle backhanded the puck to him at the blue line, and smacked a shot from the top edge of the right circle that beat Luongo stick side.

The Predators went up by two at 14:10 after Mike Matheson bungled a bouncing puck and Kevin Fiala took control of it in the high slot. Fiala worked his way by Pysyk and sent a wrist shot by Luongo after the goaltender poked the puck right back on his stick for an impressive highlight reel goal.

Arvidsson completed the scoring with a empty-netter from center ice with 1:56 remaining in regulation. Forsberg picked his third helper of the night and Josi also added an assist.

***

Credit Saros, who finished with 27 saves, and the Panthers defensemen for the Nashville win. If assists could be given out to the opposition, Pysyk would have gotten one on the first Predators goal and Yandle on the second. Matheson’s gaffe and Pysyk inability to contain Fiala greatly aided the clinching score. Both teams were rusty coming off the break, but Nashville cashed in on Florida’s mistakes in the third period to get two points, while the Cats found a way to lose after leading by two yet again. The Panthers will face Vegas tonight, also coming off a loss on Friday, in another of what will a long line of must-win games, I would expect new additions Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan will be in the lineup.

Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)