Overcoming a two-goal deficit in the game’s final six minutes, the Predators salvaged a point in their contest against the Florida Panthers, ultimately falling in a six-round shootout game, 5-4.
It was a frustrating night for Nashville as the team had several quirky mistakes causing them to give up four goals to Florida in regulation.
Predators forward Craig Smith continued his strong play of late, tallying his sixth goal in the last seven games to open the scoring at the 6:32 mark of the first period.
But shortly after that, the Panthers tied the game at one when Brad Boyes continued to jam at a loose puck between Preds goalie Marek Mazanec’s pads until it crossed the goal line.
One of many mental mistakes by Nashville occurred six minutes after the tying goal, as defenseman Mattias Ekholm kicked the puck out from behind his team’s net to a waiting Tomas Kopecky, who made no mistake, giving the Panthers the 2-1 lead they would hold after the first period.
Fortunately for the Predators, their recent streak of answering opponents back continued last night.
Mike Fisher tied the contest at two late in the second frame, but Nashville was victimized by two more turnovers in their own zone and allowed the Panthers to go back on top before the period concluded.
Panthers head coach Peter Horachek (the former associate coach of the Predators) was coaching his first game against his previous tutor Barry Trotz, and it seemed Horachek would easily claim the victory after Marcel Goc (also a former Pred) put the home team up by two goals just over 90 seconds into the third.
Nashville did wake up late in game, however.
A well-placed wrist shot by defenseman Seth Jones cut the deficit to one with 5:08 remaining in regulation and a tap-in by Paul Gaustad completed the rally for the Preds with their goalie pulled and only 48 ticks left in the game.
The rally would come up a bit short, though, as Nashville did manage to score their first shootout goal of the season (the team was 0-11 until David Legwand scored on the backhand) but failed to claim the second point when Tomas Kopecky beat Mazanec in the sixth round of the skills competition.
Like seemingly every Predators game this season, many positives and many negatives can be drawn out of this game.
Nashville did overcome a third-period deficit and tallied four goals (for only the 11th time this season), but several defensive zone gaffes, missed passes and not claiming two points against 14th-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
The team completes their three-game road trip tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes (17-16-9). The puck drops at 6 pm (CST) as Nashville will look to revenge a 5-2 loss they suffered to the Canes on December 5th.