RECAP: Panthers hang on to edge Predators 2-1

Feb 5, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates with the puck past Florida Panthers center Noel Acciari (55) during the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had one goal and one assist, leading the host Florida Panthers to a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night in Sunrise, Fla.

Verhaeghe, who leads the Panthers with six goals — including two game-winners — was the first star of the contest.

“We grinded this one out,” said Verhaeghe, who also has three assists this season.

Barkov, who has four goals and seven assists this season, was the game’s second star.

Chris Driedger, who entered the game with a sterling 1.95 goals-against average, made 24 saves to improve his record to 3-0-1.

Florida extended its season-opening points streak to eight games (6-0-2). The Panthers prevailed despite going 0-for-2 on their power play.

Pekka Rinne, who earned an overtime win over the Panthers on Thursday night, took the loss, making 34 saves.

Nashville’s goal was scored by Colton Sissons, his second of the season.

Defenseman Noah Juulsen made his Panthers debut. He played 14:20 minutes and took two shots but did not register a point. He also had five hits.

Nashville opened the scoring with 4:04 expired in the first period. Sissons’ initial shot was stopped by Driedger, but the puck bounced in off the center’s skate.

Florida tied the score 1-1 with 5:58 gone in the second. Verhaeghe, operating from the right circle, saw Barkov dart to the left side of the net. Verhaeghe delivered a great pass, and Barkov did the rest.

The same two players were at work again as Florida took a 2-1 lead with 15:31 elapsed in the second. Verhaeghe took a return pass on a give-and-go with Barkov, firing into the open right side of the net.

Florida’s Aaron Ekblad was sent to the penalty box with nine seconds left in the third. Coupled with Nashville pulling its goalie, that gave the Predators a 6-on-4 man-advantage for the final seconds. However, the Panthers hung on for the victory.

–Field Level Media