Panthers split preseason double-header with Predators

Cats win first game before getting blanked in the nightcap

The Florida Panthers earned a split in its preseason-opening double-header with the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Aleksander Barkov notched the game-winning goal with one second left in overtime to give the Cats a hard-fought 4-3 victory in the afternoon game. The assists on the decider went to Carter Verhaeghe and Aaron Ekblad,

After a tentative start, Florida eventually jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Predators fought back to tie the score.

Barkov sprung Eetu Luostarinen on a shorthanded breakaway late in the first period and the young Finn finished with a flourish at 19:17. The second assist on the goal went to rookie Santtu Kinnunen, who continues to impress.

18-year-old OHLer Kai Schwindt lit the lamp 3:41 into the middle frame when his low shot bounced off Connor Ingram’s stick and dribbled over the goal line. Assists went to Ekblad and Patrick Giles, who recently earned an entry-level deal due to his fine play at the Invisalign Prospects Showcase.

Nashville’s Jusso Parssinen beat starter Sergei Bobrovsky at 4:42 and then collected the only assist when Roland McKeown tallied at 11:45 to tie the sore. Bobrovsky would depart after McKeown’s marker, finishing with ten saves on 12 shots.

Ryan Lomberg put the Panthers back on top when he fired the rebound of Kinnunen’s blocked shot by Devin Cooley 2:11 into the third. Kinnunen’s partner for this game and much of rookie camp, Calle Sjalin drew the second helper.

Ryan Johansen would solve Mack Guzda with 5:25 left in regulation to draw the Predators even a second time. The assists went to newcomer Nino Niederreiter and Kevin Gravel.

Guzda earned the win, stopping 12 of 13 shots after coming on for Bobrovsky.

The nightcap was tight until the third when the Predators erupted for three goals en route to 4-0 win over the second group of Cats.

Filip Forsberg, Cody Glass, Colton Sissons and Tanner Jeannot scored the goals while Mattias Ekholm picked up two assists.

Highly-touted prospect Yaroslav Askarov (12 saves) and veteran Kevin Lankinen (13 saves) shared the shutout with Askarov getting the win.

Spencer Knight got the start for the Cats and stopped 19 of 20 shots before giving way to Alex Lyon, who surrendered three goals on 18 shots.

Sam Bennett and prospect defensemen Marek Alscher and Evan Nause led the Panthers with three shots on goal apiece. Matthew Tkachuk registered a shot, a block and a hit in his first game in a Florida uniform.

The Panthers will get some practice before facing the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. on home ice.