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game recap

James Reimer lifts Panthers in unexpected start

Makes 28 saves against Predators in place of Roberto Luongo, who was injured in warmups

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- James Reimer made 28 saves in an unexpected start, Jonathan Marchessault scored the go-ahead goal with 9:53 left in the third period, and the Florida Panthers defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 at BB&T Center on Friday.

Reimer started after Roberto Luongo was sidelined by an upper-body injury sustained during warmups.

"It's a little tough, but at the same time you don't have much time to get nervous," Reimer said. "You just get in there. I try to prepare like I'm playing every night. I warm up and during the day I try to take care of myself. … As a team, I thought we played phenomenal. I thought we were on top of them the whole night. The guys really worked well for me."

 

WATCH: All Predators vs. Panthers highlights

 

Reimer was particularly sharp in the third period when he made 10 saves, including two with his blocker during a Nashville power play. He has allowed one goal in three of his past five starts, going 3-1-1.

"Obviously in the game you're going to give up scoring chances, and every time he was there," Marchessault said. "He played an amazing game, especially on that power play in the third period. He had two big saves there. It was a great night. It was a big game for him."

Greg McKegg scored for the Panthers (17-15-8), who won for the second time in seven games (2-2-3).

McKegg, who was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Dec. 30, has his only two goals of the season in the past two games.

"McKegg looks like he's really comfortable now and confident, which is even more important," Panthers coach Tom Rowe said. "I thought the goal that he scored tonight was a goal that he would score in the American League, which tells you he feels real good about himself."

Craig Smith scored, and rookie Juuse Saros made 32 saves for Nashville (17-15-7), which had won its previous four on the road, including a 6-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. It was the second time in seven starts Saros gave up more than one goal.

Luongo began the game in the locker room, returned to the bench for a four-minute stretch in the second half of the first period, then left for good. Rowe said Luongo is day to day.

 

Goal of the game

Marchessault beat Saros with a wrist shot from the lower hash of the right circle. The shot went in high on the short side.

"It was a bad goal," Marchessault said. "But when you shoot on net you have more chance to score. We know that goalie didn't play much this year, so sometimes we just have to shoot it and good things can happen. I got lucky, but it's a big goal and it's a big two points."

Video: NSH@FLA: Marchessault scores from sharp angle in 3rd

 

Save of the game

With a little more than a minute left, Nashville forward Calle Jarnkrok had a clean shot from the right circle, but Reimer came up with the pad save.

Video: NSH@FLA: Reimer throws up blocker to deny Jarnkrok

 

Highlight of the game

McKegg scored 2:24 into the game after Derek MacKenzie dumped the puck in. With MacKenzie tying up two Nashville players, McKegg grabbed the carom in front of the net and beat Saros with a high backhand after a quick deke.

Video: NSH@FLA: McKegg roofs slick backhand to open scoring

 

Unsung performance of the game

After a shot from the wing by Florida forward Jared McCann trickled behind Saros, forward Colton Sceviour moved in to tap in the rebound, but defenseman Anthony Bitetto got there in time to body him off the puck.

 

They said it

"I thought it was great the way the guys battled. We've got a lot of injuries. We've really talked as a group not to let that get in the way and whoever is in the lineup has got to perform and execute. When you play hard like our guys did tonight you're going to get rewarded." -- Panthers coach Tom Rowe

 

"It's been a little tough of late, but we've been getting points, we've been hanging in there and keeping ourselves in the race. If we can keep squeaking out wins like this and keep grinding it out, let's see where we're at in a couple of months." -- Panthers goalie James Reimer

 

"I don't know if it was the travel or the back-to-back games. It took us a while to get going. I thought we had a great push in the third. They found a way to get one by us. These back-to-backs are pretty tough. It's hard to play at the pace you want." -- Predators forward Ryan Johansen

 

Need to know

Panthers center Nick Bjugstad left in the first period with a lower-body injury. Rowe did not provide an update. … Nashville forward Vladislav Kamenev made his NHL debut after being recalled from Milwaukee of the AHL. He played 10:21 and had one shot. … Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson was scratched after sustaining an upper-body injury in the third period against Tampa Bay. … Panthers sales executive Bobby Segin served as the emergency goalie. … The Panthers had a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the shooting Friday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

 

What's next

Predators: At the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; WGN, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, NESN, NHL.TV)

Video: Reimer, Marchessault push Panthers past Preds, 2-1

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