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Luongo sharp in return, but Panthers fall to Predators in Game 2

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

NASHVILLE - The Florida Panthers fell to the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime in Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader at the Bridgestone Arena.

Florida defeated Nashville 5-3 in Game 1 earlier in the day.

"I thought there was a lot of good things," head coach Bob Boughner said of his team's effort throughout the two-game tilt. "The one thing I think is compete. I think the guys really came out and played hard. These games are tough, not only because they're doubleheaders but you're playing with guys you're not used to."

"I thought, for the most part, between the two games our power play was better in the morning; I liked our penalty kill in both games. I thought [Roberto Luongo] and [James Reimer] both played great. There's a lot of good stuff."

Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring for the Panthers in Game 2, skating in all alone and beating Pekka Rinne five-hole with a wrist shot on the power play at 15:44 of the first period.

Trocheck, an all-star last season, left the game with an upper-body injury midway through the game and will be reevaluated tomorrow, according to Boughner.`

Roberto Luongo, making his first start since a lower-body injury caused him to miss the final six weeks of the 2016-17 season, was solid while seeing limited action. The 38-year-old netminder stopped all eight shots he faced in 31:26 of ice time.

"It was a good first test," Luongo said. "I felt pretty good out there. It's a good step in the right direction. I'm just looking forward now to playing a full game. I wasn't quite sure [what to expect]. I hadn't played in a long time, plus I wasn't seeing much action in the first [period]. There was a couple saves I had to make. I felt that I was sharp and on top of it. It didn't feel like I was a step slower or anything like that."

In the second period, Nashville took a 2-1 lead as both Mikka Salomaki and Colton Sissons scored on rookie goaltender Samuel Montembeault, who had replaced Luongo midway through the period.

Montembeault stopped 8 of 11 shots.

In his first game since missing the final 10 games of last season with an upper-body injury, defenseman Aaron Ekblad played a game-high 26:18 for the Panthers, including 10:06 on the power play alone. "I think the first period, the first 10 minutes felt pretty quick, but that's just the nature of the beast," Ekblad said. "Then it slowed down. At the end of the first and into the second and third, I was able to make plays, pop pucks to the middle when in needed to. I got some decent shots… I think I need to be a little more patient on the power play, do some little things and clean up. I think it'll be fine."

In an unusual play, Jared McCann managed to tie the game for the Panthers when goaltender Anders Lindback attempted to clear the puck, but it instead bounced off a forechecking McCann and into the net to make it 2-2 at 12:49 of the third period.

Rinne stopped 10 of 11 shots; Lindback saved 14 of 15.

"It feels good [to score]," McCann said. "It would have been nice to get the win, but we battled and kind of came from behind there, which is good. I feel like I did OK… moving forward, I know what I need to do better and I'm going to do that."

Salomaki scored his second goal of the game 3:07 into overtime to give the Predators a 3-2 win.

"I got to see a lot of guys play today, a lot of young guys," Boughner said. "We got three out of four points. It was a good day."

Game 2 Lineup

Forwards

Brandon Pirri - Vincent Trocheck - Evgenii Dadonov

Jared McCann - Nick Bjugstad - Radim Vrbata

Maxim Mamin - Juho Lammikko - Jayce Hawryluk

Harry Zolnierczyk - Micheal Haley - Sebastian Repo

Defense

Ian McCoshen - MacKenzie Weegar

Mark Pysyk - Aaron Ekblad

Michael Downing - Thomas Schemitsch

Goaltenders

Roberto Luongo

Samuel Montembeault

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