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game recap

Driedger gets shutout in first NHL start, Panthers top Predators

Makes 27 saves, Stralman scores twice for Florida in opener of nine-game homestand

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Stralman kicks off the scoring

NSH@FLA: Stralman buries his first goal with Panthers

Anton Stralman jumps on the rebound inside the circle and hammers it home to record his first goal with the Panthers early in the 2nd period

  • 00:26 •

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Chris Driedger made 27 saves for the shutout in his first NHL start, and the Florida Panthers defeated the Nashville Predators 3-0 at BB&T Center on Saturday.

Driedger, whose last appearance was Oct. 28, 2016 as a member of the Ottawa Senators, was playing his fourth NHL game. He was leading the American Hockey League with a .938 save percentage when he was recalled from Springfield on Monday.

"Honestly, I'm speechless at this point," Driedger said. "It's been a long time coming. They told me I was starting yesterday. I was definitely pretty nervous going into it, but once the puck dropped I kind of felt good. The [defense] did an incredible job tonight making my job easy. It was incredible. It was a lot of fun."

 

[WATCH: All Predators vs. Panthers Highlights]

 

Anton Stralman scored his first two goals for the Panthers (13-8-5), who ended a three-game losing streak in the first of a nine-game homestand. 

"It's always fun," Stralman said. "Sometimes it's just being at the right place at the right time. Other than that, there was not much to it, just trying to hit the net. It's a good feeling."

Juuse Saros made 25 saves for Nashville (12-10-4), which saw its four-game point streak end.

The Predators, who defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 on Friday, were playing the second game of their first back-to-back of the season.

"We were just OK tonight," forward Ryan Johansen said. "It's tough. Back-to-backs are tough, traveling. The bottom line is we needed to do more to be successful. We didn't create enough opportunities. When we did have ours, their goalie played well, and they did some good things. It's the way it went."

Stralman made it 1-0 at 1:06 of the second period after Saros stopped Colton Sceviour's shot from close range. It was Stralman's first goal since Dec. 29, 2018 when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Stralman increased the lead to 2-0 at 8:38 of the third period when he redirected Vincent Trocheck's pass from behind the net.

Video: NSH@FLA: Stralman puts home dish for his second goal

Aleksander Barkov made it 3-0 at 11:09, with Evgenii Dadonov getting his 100th NHL assist.

When the horn sounded, Driedger put both hands on his mask before being congratulated by his teammates.

Driedger said his shutout, the first in Panthers history for a goalie making his first NHL start and the 37th in NHL history, was the result of great team defense.

"It was incredible," he said. "Every shot that I saw, I could save. If I didn't see them, they blocked them. It was awesome. They did an incredible job in front of me. I wouldn't be answering these questions if it wasn't for them."

Video: Driedger earns Saturday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

Nashville was 0-for-4 on the power play, including 30 seconds with a two-man advantage in the second period. Florida was also 0-for-4.

"We played eight games in a row with pop and tonight, for me, we were flat," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We started out just OK and it slid from there in the third period. It's not enough. You've got to play at a higher tempo and a higher level in order to be successful. If you don't, you roll the dice and it didn't go our way. We've got to put more into it."

 

They said it

"It's a statement for us that we've been playing good hockey, but we're not there yet. This is a good example of it. We can't take a night off. We can't take a step back. It's a good wake-up call, I guess you could say, that we have to bring our A game every night to be successful in this league." -- Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis

"The composure was terrific, and patient. He waited on the pucks. He's smooth. When I say smooth, no rebounds. He was covering up if there were any. I thought he moved well and followed the puck and did a lot of real good things. Happy for him." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville on goalie Chris Driedger

 

Need to know

Nashville was shut out for the first time this season. … Predators forward Kyle Turris was a healthy scratch for the seventh consecutive game. … Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar was plus-2 in 19:49 after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. … It was the fourth two-goal game of Stralman's NHL career, his first since Dec. 16, 2017 when he was with Tampa Bay.

 

What's next

Predators: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNW, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)

Video: Stralman, Driedger power Panthers' shutout victory

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