Florida Panthers sweep Nashville Predators in preseason doubleheader

Vatrano and Barkov key Cats wins on Sunday

The Florida Panthers won both halves of its preseason-opening doubleheader with the Nashville Predators on Sunday at FLA Live Arena.

In the matinee game, Frank Vatrano bagged a hat trick and Sam Bennett scored the game-winner 46 seconds into overtime to give the Panthers a 5-4 win in a back-and-forth affair which was fun to watch, but definitely a bit sloppy.

The Cats overcame a 2-0 deficit, with both goals allowed in the second period by starter Sam Montembeault, tying the game on Vatrano’s first two goals. A nice short-side snipe by an onrushing Aleksi Heponiemi with 7:58 remaining put the Panthers up 3-2, but they couldn’t hold the lead. A power-play goal by Rem Pitlick knotted the score before Vatrano replied with a power-play goal of his own to complete the hatty. Taylor Jeannot banged in his second of the tilt with 2:54 left on the clock to send the game to overtime, where some hard work down low in the corner culminated with Jonathan Huberdeau setting up Bennett for the winner.

Montembeault stopped 17 of 19 shots in his 40 minutes of duty while Evan Fitzpatrick played the third and turned away 9 of 11 shots to get the win.

Other Panthers who figured in the scoring with assists were Patric Hornqvist (2), Bennett, Tippett, Zac Dalpe, Kevin Connauton, Matt Kiersted and MacKenzie Weegar.

The late game saw Aleksander Barkov have a hand in all three goals in a 3-1 Panthers victory.

Florida jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period on power-play goals from Anthony Duclair (a blazing one-timer) at the 2:36 mark and Carter Verhaeghe 4:49 later. Barkov combined with Brandon Montour to set up both goals.

Egor Afanasyev scored the only Nashville goal with 2:33 left in the opening frame.

Montour would put the Cats back up by two when he scored from Verhaeghe and Barkov midway with 9:48 left in regulation to clinch it.

Spencer Knight went the distance in goal and stopped 29 of 30 shots. After looking a bit off his game in the Prospect Showcase Tournament, Knight looked every bit an NHLer last night.

The Panthers will get some more practice time in and perhaps cut a few players from the training camp roster before they visit the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.