Recap: Panthers melt down in the third, lose 6-4 to Predators

Huberdeau takes NHL scoring lead in frustrating defeat

Tanner Jeannot’s shorthanded goal 10:41 into the third period tied the game and then the 24-year-old clinched it with an empty-netter with 1:32 remaining to help the Nashville Predators upset the Florida Panthers by a 6-4 count at FLA Live Arena.

It was Florida’s first loss on home ice since December 16. The Cats had leads of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3, but couldn’t hold off the resilient Predators, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Sam Reinhart opened the scoring 6:45 into the first with a power-play goal. Jonathan Huberdeau settled down Anthony Duclair’s cross on the side boards and went down low to Reinhart, who stepped in front and fired the puck over David Rittich’s glove.

Nashville would counter at the 12:06 mark after Sergei Bobrovsky made saves on Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene, the latter was able to push his rebound over to Forsberg and he finally was able to sweep the third backhand attempt under Bobrovsky. Alexandre Carrier got the second assist for holding the puck in the zone and getting it to Forsberg.

The Panthers regained the lead 1:54 when Reinhart won a draw back to Radko Gudas and he snapped a wrister through traffic for his first goal since April 19, 2021.

Aaron Ekblad put the Cats up by two at the 9:42 mark when he knocked the puck out the air at his own blue line and burst up the ice before firing a wrister past Rittich from the edge of the right circle. That’s goals in four straight games for Ekblad.

The Predators made short work of the two-goal deficit with a Roman Josi one-timer, from Duchene and Forsberg, coming at 10:44 and a backhander from Yakov Trenon, who finished off a nice lead pass by Dante Fabbro, 37 seconds after that.

After Rittich denied his initial shot, Sam Bennett tracked down and won the rebound and fed Huberdeau. Rittich stopped Huberdeau redirect too, but couldn’t seal the puck and Bennett was able to poke it in to give Florida the lead for a third time 8:11 into the third.

Things kept looking good for the Panthers when a Luke Kunin goal was waived off for goalie interference and then Carrier was sent to the sin bin for cross checking Duclair 1:40 after the Bennett goal. Unfortunately, Aleksander Barkov’s pass back to Ekblad at the point was a bit off the mark and Jeannot was able to speed away and complete the breakaway with backhand finish.

The winner came with 5:31 remaining in regulation and Bennett off for cross checking, After playing catch with Josi a couple times, Forsberg snapped a shot on goal and Mikael Granlund was able to corral the rebound and put it home.

A MacKenzie Weegar turnover in the neutral zone allowed Jeannot to score a long-range empty-netter and hand the Panthers a loss in Sun for the first time in 2022. Jeannot is now tied for the rookie goals lead with Toronto’s Michael Bunting.

Up next for the Cats is a Thursday date with the Columbus Blue Jackets. I’d expect a much cleaner game from Bobrovsky (27 saves on 32 shots) and the Panthers, who certainly didn’t bring their “A’ game back with them after winning three-straight on the road.

Claws & Fangs

  • Florida lost for just the fourth time on home ice this season as the Predators joined the Seattle Kraken, Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings as winners at FLA Live Arena.
  • With two more assists, Jonathan Huberdeau extended his point streak to eight games and took the NHL scoring lead with 72 points.
  • Speaking of scoring streaks, Sam Reinhart’s is at seven games. He has produced six goals and six assists during that span. Nashville’s Roman Josi upped his to six games.
  • Colton Scissons went a perfect 16 for 16 on faceoffs and David Rittich made 44 saves in his first start since January 18.
  • Aleksander Barkov and Patric Hornqvist each finished the game with a -3 rating.
  • For more on this goal-filled, cat on cat battle, check out On The Forecheck./

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