LBC Game Preview: Florida Panthers at Nashville Predators
It's not too late to salvage the season, but it isn't too late to blow it. The Cats have displayed decidedly different sides in two victories versus their four defeats. Which squad will show up to take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds?
The Panthers visit Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the first of two contests against the Preds this season. Florida recently split a two-game home-opening stand, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Friday before falling to the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 on Sunday. After tonight's matchup, they'll return to BB&T for a six-game marathon from Sunrise, hosting the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres on October 25th, the Tampa Bay Lightning on the 27th, and the St. Louis Blues on November 1st.
Nashville is playing their fourth game of a five-game homestand. They defeated the Wild 3-2 last Tuesday, lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 on Thursday, and defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 Saturday. They'll wrap up with the Kings on Thursday.
A Look Back
In the last matchup between these two, the 38-20-7 Predators visited the 30-21-12 Panthers in Sunrise on March 3rd, 2012. Recently acquired winger Wojtek Wolski provided all of Florida's offense in the 3-1 loss, with assists from Tomas Fleischmann and Marcel Goc. Scott Clemmensen took the loss, allowing three goals on 23 shots. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne stopped 39-of-40.
Andrei Kostitsyn flashed the kind of offensive ability that convinced the Nashville Predators to trade for him. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, continued to show why he's among the best goalies in the NHL.
Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist and Rinne tied Nashville's single-season record with his 36th victory as the Predators beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Saturday night. * Full Recap * Box Score
GameTime: 8:00 PM ET, FS-FLA, WQAM, LBC GameThread at 7:30
All-Time Record: Florida is 7-5-3-3 lifetime against the Preds, good for a 55.6% success rate in earning points against them.
Season Series: First of two meetings
Florida Panthers 2-4-0, .333, 4 points, on pace for 55 points. Tied for sixth in the Atlantic Division, tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference, tied for 20th in the NHL. Last five: L-L-L-W-L.
Nashville Predators, 2-3-0, .400, 4 points, on pace for 65 points.Tied for sixth in the Central Division, tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference, tied for 20th in the NHL. Last five: L-L-W-L-W.
Florida center Marcel Goc played two seasons for the Predators, scoring 21 goals and 33 assists in 124 regular season games. He also had a plus-20 rating and 20 penalty minutes.
Florida winger Scottie Upshall played in parts of four seasons for Nashville, totaling 11 goals and 18 assists with a plus-13 rating and 52 penalty minutes over 77 games.
Nashville center Matt Cullen played 86 games for the Panthers over two seasons, scoring 12 goals with 19 helpers, a minus-6 rating and 46 penalty minutes.
F Shawn Matthias will move into sole possession of 27th place, passing Mike Hough with his 260th game played.
Tomas Kopecky has 25 Panthers goals, tied for 48th. Kris Versteeg is alone in 47th, with 26. One more will tie him at 45th with Mike Hough. Shawn Matthias has 39 goals, good for 29th all time, while Tomas Fleischmann recently scored his 40th, and is currently tied for 28th with Juraj Kolnik.
Matthias, with 43 assists, is 49th all-time. One more will tie him in 46th with Jody Hull, Chris Gratton, and Ivan Novoseltsev. Fleischmann currently sits at 62 with the Panthers, placing him in 31st, two behind Dmitry Kulikov. Kulikov's next assist will be his 65th, moving him into a tie at 29th with captain Ed Jovanovski. Brian Campbell currently has 72 assists, is tied for 21st place with Stu Barnes, and will move into the top 20 all-time with two more, tying Johan Garpenlov.
Retired longtime New York Islander and Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman Darius Kasparaitis turns 41 tomorrow, and Caps fourth line winger Jay Beagle turns 28.
Probable Starting Lineups
- Jonathan Huberdeau - Scott Gomez - Kris Versteeg
- Tomas Fleischmann - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes
- Jesse Winchester - Marcel Goc - Shawn Matthias
- Tomas Kopecky - Nick Bjugstad - Krys Barch
F Nick Bjugstad has been declared medically fit for action and is in Nashville with the team; early reports suggest he will play, while Scottie Upshall is expected to sit tonight.
- Tom Gilbert - Brian Campbell
- Mike Weaver - Dmitry Kulikov
- Erik Gudbranson - Matt Gilroy
- Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist
- Gabriel Bourque - Matt Cullen - Filip Forsberg
- Craig Smith - David Legwand - Viktor Stalberg
- Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Matt Hendricks
- Pekka Rinne - Carter Hutton
Brad Boyes - 4, Aleksander Barkov, Marcel Goc, Jonathan Huberdeau - 2
Tomas Fleischmann - 5, Brian Campbell - 4, Aleksander Barkov - 3
Tomas Fleischmann - 6, Aleksander Barkov, Brad Boyes - 5
Marcel Goc - 50.5%, Jesse Winchester - 44.8%, Aleksander Barkov - 44.6%
Shots on Goal
Tomas Fleischmann - 20, Kris Versteeg - 18, Brad Boyes - 17
Erik Gudbranson - 30, Dmitry Kulikov - 19, Jesse Winchester - 14
Mike Weaver - 19, Erik Gudbranson - 15, Dmitry Kulikov, Scottie Upshall - 8
Mike Weaver - 17, Erik Gudbranson - 13, Tom Gilbert - 10
Check out On the Forecheck for more on the opposition, and keep it tuned right here for the LBC Live GameThread, going live at 7:30 p.m.