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Preds rally, sink Panthers in overtime

by Brian Hunter
Patric Hornqvist and Francis Bouillon dealt the latest blow to the Florida Panthers' flickering postseason hopes.

Hornqvist scored his team-leading 30th goal of the season with 3:07 left in the third period and Bouillon recorded the game-winner one minute into overtime as the Nashville Predators rallied for a 3-2 win Monday over the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.

"We didn't play a great game, that's for sure," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We didn't have a lot of energy and a lot of juice. We had to get that out. The positive thing is, when we didn't have much going on today, we found a way to get it tied up and we found a way to win it."

Bouillon beat Scott Clemmensen on a shot from the right circle off assists from Marcel Goc and Steve Sullivan for his third goal of the season.

The two points allowed Nashville to open up a three-point lead over Detroit for sixth in the Western Conference. David Legwand also scored and Dan Ellis made 27 saves.

"A game like this, when you're playing a team you don't see often, you don't have any matchup against, it's just a random game, you have tendency to just mosey on in and tonight we did that a little bit, but we dig deep toward the end when it really counted and got the points," Ellis said.

Legwand had the only goal of the game through 40 minutes, but Florida came back in the third to take a 2-1 lead on goals by Keith Ballard and Stephen Weiss. Clemmensen was a few minutes away from winning his third consecutive start when Hornqvist struck and the Panthers were never in front again.

The single point they picked up tied them for 12th in the Eastern Conference with the Islanders and Lightning, eight points behind the Bruins for the final postseason berth. There are seven games left in the regular season for Florida.

"We had two or three chances, I thought, to make it 3-1 and really put the game out of reach and either their guy made a save or we just missed and they hung around and found a way to get one," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.

Hornqvist, who scored just twice in 28 games after coming up with the Predators last season, forced overtime by putting a wrist shot between Clemmensen's pads.

Ballard and Weiss had erased a 1-0 lead for Nashville by scoring 2:41 apart early in the third. Weiss drew the primary assist on Ballard's sixth goal of the season at the 3:12 mark and gave Florida the edge by tipping in Jason Garrison's drive from the blue line. Michael Frolik assisted on both goals.

Following a scoreless first period, Legwand struck for the Predators at 2:41 of the second. He took a pass from Colin Wilson and scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle for his first goal since Jan. 2 against the Ducks, a stretch of 35 games.

"We gave up two goals there. They were all over us a little bit. But we squeaked one out," Legwand said. "Hornqvist got a big goal and the overtime we knew we could go for it a little bit against an Eastern Conference team. We needed two points and we got it."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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