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Panthers Split Doubleheader with Nashville

by Jameson Olive JamesonCoop /

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers rallied late, but fell to the Nashville Predators 2-1 to split the club's preseason doubleheader on Tuesday at the BB&T Center.

Earlier in the day, the Panthers scored four goals in the third period to beat the Predators 4-1 in the opener. Dryden Hunt, Greg McKegg, Jonathan Ang and Jonathan Marchessault all scored for Florida, while James Reimer stopped all 12 shots he faced before being relieved by backup Sam Brittain midway through the second period.

"Preseason is just all about trying to get ready, trying to get the cobwebs out, trying to stay ready and stay good," Reimer said. "I thought it was a good game for that. I thought I was able to get on my angles and start doing what I need to do to be successful."

In the second game, the Predators took an early 2-0 lead over the Panthers thanks to pair of goals on the power play. Mikko Salomaki opened the scoring for Nashville after deflecting a shot from the point past goaltender Roberto Luongo to make it 1-0 at 6:51 of the first period. Soon after, Pontus Aberg added to Nashville's lead, scoring the team's second power-play goal of the period to make it 2-0 at 12:27.

Luongo made 9 saves on 11 shots in his preseason debut.

"I felt pretty good," said Luongo. "Timing wise and read wise I'm not exactly where I want to be, but that wasn't the purpose of tonight. I think it was a matter of getting back into some game action and making sure that everything is working properly still. As far as that's concerned, it was a good night."

Paul Thompson scored Florida's lone goal of the game, batting a puck out of the air and past goaltender Jusse Saros to cut Nashville's lead to 2-1 at 17:57 of the second period. 

The Panthers continue their preseason on Thursday against the Lightning in Tampa Bay.


-- In Game 1 of the doubleheader, goaltender Sam Brittain made 24 saves on 25 shots in relief of starting goaltender James Reimer. The 24-year-old netminder is entering his third professional season and is expected to compete for a spot with Florida's American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

"I'm feeling really good," said Brittain, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. "It's been a long journey. I know that each year I want to grow and get better and better. I'm just looking to play as much as I can where they want me this year and develop and keeping working on the areas I need to work on to hopefully make that jump to the big club."

-- Jonathan Marchessault was one of just six skaters with NHL experience to take the ice for the Panthers in Game 1. The 25-year-old forward scored a goal, but also showed immense value off of the scoresheet, serving as an on-ice leader for his younger teammates.

"I'm trying to lead by example on the ice," said Marchessault, who signed a two-year contract with the Panthers in July. "Hopefully everybody was playing calm with the puck. It was a lot of guys first time, but the game of hockey doesn't change. You just have to bring what you do best, whatever got you here. I think everybody did that this afternoon."

-- Jared McCann, who was acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks in May, made his preseason debut playing alongside Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad on Florida's top line. A natural center, the 20-year-old is focused on transition to the wing during training camp.

"[Colton Sceviour] helped me out a lot with the wing," said McCann, who was originally picked in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft by Vancouver. "He told me to play the way I normally play and he'll be covering for me. I know, more positionally, I have to play on the wing. Sometimes I got caught out of plays. I'm going to go look at it [on video] and see what I can do better."

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