PREVIEW: Predators look to repeat goal surge in rematch with Panthers

By Field Level Media
Jan 24, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators finally may be on track after scoring a season-high six goals.

Meanwhile, Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville is being second-guessed after a controversial decision.

Those were among the talking points after the Predators’ 6-5 overtime win against the Panthers on Thursday in Sunrise, Fla.

The Predators, who snapped a two-game losing streak, will get a rematch with the Panthers on Friday night at the same location.

Nashville, which had scored five total goals over its previous two games, broke out thanks to two goals each by Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene.

“Filip could have had 10 points tonight,” Duchene said of Forsberg, who added three assists.

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Duchene scored the game-tying goal with 57 seconds left in regulation. He was stopped on his first two shots on the doorstep by Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Duchene then flipped the puck over Bobrovsky’s left pad to tie the score.

Forsberg’s goal one minute into overtime ended Nashville’s two-game losing streak.

Bobrovsky, who made 35 saves but blew a 5-3 third-period lead, likely will get a rest on Friday. Backup Chris Driedger has been brilliant this season with a 2-0-1 record, a .937 save percentage and a 1.95 goals-against average.

Quenneville, meanwhile, made a crucial strategic decision that backfired after Nashville’s Roman Josi scored to cut Florida’s lead to 5-4 with 2:06 left in the third period.

After the goal, Florida challenged the play due to what the Panthers believed was a high stick. The challenge was denied, and, by rule, the Panthers were hit with a two-minute penalty.

Nashville then pulled its goalie for a six-on-four advantage, and that’s when Duchene scored to set up overtime.

“We thought there was a high stick,” Quenneville said. “We took a risk, and it came back to bite us. I didn’t see (the high stick) live, but we were aware. … It’s disappointing.”

Quenneville had three telling words when asked about Bobrovsky’s performance: “He was OK.”

Quenneville was much more effusive in his praise of Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who burned Nashville for his first career hat trick and also his first five-point game.

“The past few games, (Huberdeau) was trending in the right direction,” Quenneville said. “(On Thursday), he had it going, made several top plays.”

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who stopped all 12 shots he faced Thursday in relief of Juuse Saros, likely will get the start on Friday. Saros allowed five goals on 24 shots in two periods.

The performance of the Predators’ penalty-kill unit also bears watching on Friday.

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The Predators started the current two-game series with the NHL’s worst record in killing off penalties, and then allowed the Panthers to score on their first two power-play opportunities.

Florida, though, went empty on its final two chances with the man advantage, giving Nashville what it needed to rally for the overtime win.

Predators center Ryan Johansen did not play in the third period and overtime Thursday due to an undisclosed injury. He is listed as questionable for Friday.

–Field Level Media