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RECAP: Florida Panthers hold on for win over Nashville Predators

Mar 4, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) watches as a shot by Florida Panthers right wing Patric Hornqvist (70) slides through the crease behind goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) watches as a shot by Florida Panthers right wing Patric Hornqvist (70) slides through the crease behind goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Ekblad notched two goals and two assists, Mason Marchment netted his first career marker and the Florida Panthers opened their five-game road trip Thursday with a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators.

Jonathan Huberdeau recorded a goal and an assist for Florida, and Carter Verhaeghe tallied for the first time in 11 games. Aleksander Barkov recorded three assists for the Panthers, who moved 7-1-1 on the road.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Panthers, check out #FlaPanthers rumors, rankings, and news here.

Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31of 35 shots, and defenseman Radko Gudas played in his 500th NHL game.

Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists, Mattias Ekholm added a goal and an assist and Colton Sissons and Ryan Johansen tallied for Nashville, which fell to 3-7-1 in its past 11 against Florida. Viktor Arvidsson notched three assists.

Johansen returned after a one-game absence (COVID-19 protocol), and teammate Brad Richardson was activated from injured reserve and produced an assist.

With Predators goalie Juuse Saros (upper body) placed on injured reserve earlier Thursday, Pekka Rinne stepped in in his first start in four games. Rinne allowed five goals on 38 shots.

Verhaeghe opened the scoring by swooping in and firing home his eighth goal at 6:29 of the first period.

Denied by Rinne in an earlier two-on-one, Marchment got the same chance on a pass from Ekblad, spun along the side boards and netted his first goal at 9:01 of the first. The third-liner, playing in his ninth career NHL game, now has a four-game points streak.

Less than a minute into the second period, a trailing Huberdeau one-timed a pass from Patric Hornqvist, whose steal behind the goal line on the forecheck led to a 3-0 margin.

Nashville had a chance to get back in it with almost a full five-on-three power play, but the Panthers’ penalty kill thwarted the Predators. However, after the penalties expired, Ekholm’s fourth tally at 12:23 finally put the home side on the board.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Predators, check out #ForSmashville rumors, rankings, and news here.

Ekblad found the net on Florida’s second man advantage at 18:44 of the second, but Forsberg redirected a shot by Arvidsson with 26 seconds left in the period to trim the deficit to 4-2.

Nashville’s Rocco Grimaldi appeared to score at 1:58 of the third, but the Panthers challenged that the play was offside. Replay showed the former Florida draft pick entered the offensive zone early, negating the tally.

Ekblad used a curl-and-drag move to beat Rinne on a power-play goal for his eighth goal at 9:07, giving Florida a 5-2 edge.

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Sissons scored his fourth on a pass from Richardson at 12:40, and Johansen tallied his first at 18:47 with the net empty, but Florida held on for the victory.

–Field Level Media