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game recap

Panthers top Predators to earn split, extend point streak to eight

Barkov, Verhaeghe each has goal, assist for Florida; Rinne makes 34 saves for Nashville

by Alain Poupart / Independent Correspondent

Barkov buries a Verhaeghe feed

NSH@FLA: Barkov finishes Verhaege's great pass

Aleksander Barkov skates in behind the defender and roofs a backdoor pass from Carter Veraeghe to even the score at 1 in the 2nd period

  • 00:35 •

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist, and the Florida Panthers extended their season-opening point streak to eight games with a 2-1 win against the Nashville Predators at BB&T Center on Friday.

Chris Driedger made 24 saves for the Panthers (6-0-2), who lost to the Predators 6-5 in overtime on Thursday in the first of the two-game set after giving up two goals in the final 2:06 of the third period.

"It's huge," Verhaeghe said. "The points here are huge. It [was] a bit of an uphill battle last night. We kind of blew that one a little bit. We had opportunities to close it out last night and we didn't, so it's nice to see the same kind of opportunity and we did it tonight."

Colton Sissons scored, and Pekka Rinne made 34 saves for the Predators (5-6-0).

"I thought Pekka was very good," Nashville coach John Hynes said. "He had an excellent game tonight. When you get good goaltending, it always brings energy to your team. Tonight he did his job, but we didn't have enough of a team game to win the hockey game."

Video: NSH@FLA: Sissons sneaks one by Driedger

The Panthers point streak is their second-longest to start a season. They had a 12-game streak in 1996-97, when they started 8-0-4 (ties).

The Predators are 1-5-0 on the road after losing three of four on their trip against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Panthers.

"There were a number of learning lessons," Sissons said. "Discipline has been a big factor, special teams, and just finding a more consistent game throughout the night. We had some lulls in periods and actually got pretty sidetracked in some games by lack of discipline. It's hard to keep momentum when you're doing that all the time."

Nashville led 1-0 after the first period despite being outshot 20-5. Sissons opened the scoring at 4:04 when Driedger stopped him from close range and the rebound bounced in off Sissons' skate.

"We did have a lot of pucks at the net, a lot of loose stuff," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. "They weren't bouncing our way. Rinne had a good period against us like he did last night. We had some different looks in that second, obviously the finish was great with [Barkov's] line. I thought we played really hard in the third. Very happy [with the] team win. Exciting for the guys. Basically we said this morning, 'Let's move past that, let's get incentivized by it, and now let's go out and have our best game.'"

Barkov tied it 1-1 at 5:58 of the second period when he scored off Verhaeghe's cross-ice pass to the side of the net.

Verhaeghe gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 15:31 when he took a return pass from Barkov below the right face-off circle after Rinne was pulled out of position.

"We're working hard," Verhaeghe said. "Last game we were doing a lot of things but just didn't get rewarded. It's nice to finally get rewarded tonight. It's kind of nice, this whole team too, we're clicking. If one guy is not going, other guys are going. It's awesome. And the chemistry with me and [Barkov] too. He's a great player. He's so easy to play with. We click pretty well."

Video: NSH@FLA: Verhaeghe cashes in on passing sequence

Driedger stopped Erik Haula on a breakaway with 17 seconds left in the third period.

"[Driedger] was rock solid again tonight," Quenneville said. "Big save there late. He takes up a lot of net, very patient, poised, and rebounds seem to stick to him."

With Rinne pulled for an extra attacker, the Predators ended the game at 6-on-4 after Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was called for slashing with nine seconds left, but Nashville did not have a shot during the power play.

NOTES: Predators center Ryan Johansen did not play because of an upper-body injury sustained in the second period Thursday. He is day to day. … Defenseman Noah Juulsen had two shots and five hits playing 14:20 in his Panthers debut, which was his first NHL game since Dec. 17, 2018, with the Montreal Canadiens. … Florida forward Owen Tippett got his first NHL assist and played 11:07 after being recalled from the taxi squad.

Video: Barkov and Verhaeghe lift Panthers to victory

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