Nick Cousins scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, Juuse Saros made 22 of his 38 saves in the period, and the Nashville Predators beat the visiting Florida Panthers 4-1 on Monday night.
Erik Haula, who assisted on Cousins’ goal, scored 2:39 into the third for some insurance as the Predators (27-21-2, 56 points) won their season-high fourth straight at home. Mikael Granlund and Yakov Trenin also scored for Nashville, which remains two points up on Dallas for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
Sam Bennett scored his fourth goal in six games since being traded to the second-place Panthers (31-14-5, 67 points), who have dropped two of three following a 4-0-1 stretch.
Cousins broke a 1-1 tie at the 3:35 mark of the second period when he pushed a behind-the-net pass from Haula past Florida netminder Chris Driedger (14 saves), who exited with 4:55 left in the middle frame due to a lower-body injury. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 9 of 11 shots in relief of Driedger.
It was one of just five shots on goal in the period for Nashville, compared with the barrage the Panthers threw at Saros. The Predators goalie, though, stymied Florida throughout the period, and the night, while recording his career-high 18th victory.
Florida went up 1-0 amid a delayed penalty just 4:49 into the game when Anthony Duclair’s shot went in off the skate of Bennett, who was positioned perfectly in front of the Predators’ net. Nashville, though, answered with a power-play goal from Granlund, who was also stationed in front of the Panthers’ net, at the 6:30 mark of the opening period.
Following the Cousins’ goal, Haula and Trenin added third-period goals for the Predators, who are 3-0-1 in the last four contests.
These teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday night, also in Nashville.
–Field Level Media