Recap: Predators take a bite out of Panthers’ playoff chances

That’s NOT how you start a homestand

The Florida Panthers drive for the playoffs remains stuck in neutral. After posting an 4-1 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. the Cats opened their seven-game homestand with thud by dropping a 2-1 decision to the Nashville Predators.

Despite the importance of the game, Florida delivered another stinky first period and fell behind by two goals.

Rookie Luke Evangelista drew a tripping call on Radko Gudas and then got first NHL point at 13:40 when he set up Matt Duchene’s wrister from the right circle. Duchene’s shot eluded a screened Sergei Bobrovsky. The secondary assist went to Roman Josi.

The Predators would strike again with 11 seconds left in the frame. After running a give-and-go with Cody Glass, Josi drove to the net before dishing off to call-up John Leonard, who cut across the crease and backhanded the puck by Bobrovsky.

Bobrovksy would start the second period with series of big saves to steady his wobbly club and the Panthers got one back at the 3;21 mark.

Gudas made s a strong poke-check at his own blue line sending the Cats off on a 3-on-1 break. Ryan Lomberg jetted down the right side before crossing through the goalmouth to Brandon Montour for the put-away.

The Panthers continued to test Kevin Lankinen, who made 30 saves, during the middle stanza, but to no avail.

Nashville clamped down in the third, holding the Cats to a measly eight shots on goal. Florida had a few good looks here and there, but could not finish. Nothing new there...

If one concedes a wild card spot to Pittsburgh, winners of four straight, then the Panthers are still within striking distance (four points with a game in hand) of the New York Islanders for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, the Cats seem utterly incapable of stringing together wins and building any momentum while a team like Ottawa is in midst of making a spirited run that has seen Senators match Florida’s 66 points, having played two less games.

Fangs & Claws

  • Florida attempted 82 shots last night. 31 were on goal, 28 got blocked and 23 missed the net. Do or do not. There is no try.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky finished up with 21 saves on 23 shots. The veteran keeper has given up just six goals in the last three games. His team responded with a 1-2 record.
  • John Leonard, who amassed 32 points in 52 AHL games with the Milwaukee Admirals, notched the game-winning goal in his Predators debut, It was Leonard’s fifth career goal in the NHL. He scored the others with the San Jose Sharks.
  • Speaking of debuts, new Nashville defenseman Tyson Barrie had one shot on goal and one block in 21:58 of ice time after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Aaron Ekblad registered a game-high five shots on goal and was credited with two hits.
  • The Panthers got swept this season by Kevin Lankinen and the Predators. Read more about it at On The Forecheck./