Smashed in Smashville: Panthers close road trip with ugly 7-3 loss to Predators

Cats remain one point off the playoff pace with Sabres closing in

The Florida Panthers got battered 7-3 by the Nashville Predators in Music City to end its four-game road trip on a sour note.

After falling behind at 2:36 of the first when Tommy Novak came off the boards and scored unassisted, the Panthers quickly responded to take the lead.

Former Predator Nick Cousins, who was playing in his 500th NHL, gathered up a loose puck and beat Kevin Lankinen unassissted from the high slot at 7:55. Way to make the most of a milestone! The goal ended a 15-game drought for Cousins.

The Panthers forged ahead 4:14 later when the puck came out from behind the net to Brandon Montour on the right boards and he cracked a pass into the slot where Matthew Tkachuk deflected it home.

Florida simply imploded after that. Matt Duchene second-chance finish tied it 47 seconds later to start a run of five-straight Nashville goals.

A power-play tip-in by Ryan Johansen at 15:01 put the Predators ahead and Colton Scissons’ breakaway goal 7:40 into the second sent Sergei Bobrovsky to the bench,

Spencer Knight gave up goals to Roman Josi and Novak before Sam Reinhart got a meaningless one back for the Cats,

After playing catch with Montour at the point, Aleksander Barkov snapped a shot towards the net that Reinhart was able to deflect by 9:48 into the third. It was Florida’s first power-play goal since February 6.

Yakov Trenin completed the scoring with an empty-netter with 5:46 left on the clock.

Disappointingly, the Panthers failed to build on their huge win in Washington on Thursday and instead delivered a complete stinker in the afternoon matinee. Based on how the rest of the day played out, they could’ve leapt over both the Capitals and New York Islanders and been sitting in the Wild Card 2 spot had they been able to beat the  Predators, who put up a season-high seven goals to end a two-game losing streak. The Cats will return to Sunrise to face the Anaheim Ducks and rising Buffalo Sabres on a brief two-game homestand.

Claws & Fangs

  • Four Predators finished with multipoint games. Tommy Novak scored twice, Roman Josi had a goal and two assists, Ryan Johansen had a goal and a helper, and Ryan McDonagh posted three assists. It was McDonagh first mulitpoint game with his new team.
  • Totally not his fault, but Sergei Bobrovsky saw his run of hot play extinguished, departing with just seven saves on 11 shots. Spencer Knight came in stopped 12 of the 14 shots he faced in relief.
  • On the other side of the ice, Nashville’s Kevin Lankinen finished with 30 saves to up his record to 6-5-1.
  • Sam Reinhart’s goal ended an 0-for-17 run on the power play for the Panthers. Florida’s last PPG came late in the 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning six games ago.
  • Aleksander Barkov’s assist on that goal put him at 50 points (16 goals, 34 assists) for an eighth straight season. Barkov had four shots, two hits and block, but finished with a -3 rating, as did Aaron Ekblad.
  • For more on the Panthers getting smashed in Smashville stop by On The Forecheck./