The Nashville Predators defeated the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-2 via the shootout on Saturday night.
The contest would be all Predators for fifty-nine of the sixty-minutes of regulation time before Florida would tie things up in a hurry with under one-minute to go in the game.
The first twenty-minutes of the contest saw the Predators dominate play as they out shot the Panthers 14-4 but Nashville would have nothing to show for it as Roberto Luongo would stand strong in the crease for Florida.
Perhaps the most exciting highlight of the first period was that the Predators received their first power play opportunity of the night after a cross-checking penalty was called on Panthers’ forward Shawn Thornton with just over twelve-minutes remaining in the period. Nashville was unsuccessful with the man advantage; registering zero-shots on net.
The second period held the same script as the first. Nashville dominated play for the majority of the middle frame, the only difference being that the Predators would find the back of the net.
Colin Wilson lit the lamp for the Predators with 1:34 remaining in the second period for his third-goal of the season after what seemed to be a pass from behind the net that was deflected past Luongo to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok were credited with the assists on the somewhat odd Wilson tally.
Wilson said “I was just trying to pass it out to Jarnkrok and it took a really nice deflection into the net.” The Predators forward also spoke about his night in the faceoff dot (5 of 7 on the night) and gave a little bit of praise to Gaustad in saying “he [Gaustad] is always talking to everybody on where to go on the other centermen, about what they are gonna do, it’s nice.”
After two-periods of play Nashville held a 33-18 shot advantage, out-shooting the Panthers 19-14 in the middle frame. Florida had a handful of scoring opportunities throughout the period including a power play chance but Pekka Rinne and the Predators did not allow a goal in what was a high-paced second set of twenty-minutes.
The third-period would be quite a wild one.
The Predators received a five-on-three advantage for 1:41 in the opening moments of the third period. Nashville only managed one-shot on net on what was their fourth power play of the evening. Things would brighten later on for the Predators later on into the final frame.
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With Nashville controlling the play as they had been all night it seemed as if the Predators would secure the victory following a Matt Cullen goal that gave the Preds a 2-0 lead with just under six-minutes to play in regulation, but soon after things would take a turn in the Panthers’ favor.
Florida pulled their goalie for the man-advantage and soon there after Rocco Grimaldi would score his first NHL goal to cut the Predators’ lead in half with only 43-seconds left on the clock.
Then, only 12-seconds later, Nick Bjugstad would send a wrist-shot past Rinne who was stumbling trying to get back in his net after poorly attempting to play the puck around the boards. Just like that the game was headed into overtime with the score knotted up at two-goals a piece and with Nashville leading in the shots category 45-30.
The Predators completely controlled the tempo in the extra five-minutes of play. Forsberg had a great opportunity to end the game in overtime but was stopped by an incredible – sprawled out save made by Luongo. The Panthers did not manage to register a shot on net in the extra frame but were successful in holding off the Predators to send the game into the shootout.
After each team sent out three shooters and all six did not manage to score a goal, Peter Laviolette went to the NHL’s rookie-points leader, Forsberg. Forsberg took a different approach than previous skaters and shot a wrister a bit outside of normal range through the five-hole of Luongo. This goal would stand as the shootout winner as Rinne stopped Brad Boyes to end the contest on Florida’s last attempt.
Rinne stopped 28 of the 30 pucks thrown his way while Luongo was very impressive for Florida stopping 48 of 50.