Another dramatic comeback against the Panthers wasn't meant to be, as the Nashville Predators fell to Florida by a 5-4 final on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville scored twice in the second period and added two more in the third, but as was the case in Tuesday's loss to Carolina, another slow start for the Preds ultimately led to the final result.
Video: Hynes talks poor starts following Preds' 5-4 loss
"It's back-to-back games here where we obviously got down early in the first, and it's just urgency in our play," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. "We gave up odd-man rushes, our D were pinching at the wrong times, our forwards had to reload a little bit more, and it comes to the urgency that you need to be able to play with to establish the game. I respect the fact that we stay with it and we find ways to get ourselves back in the game, get it close, but when the game starts, every team's fresh, everyone's hungry, everyone's ready to go. The urgency level that we're playing with and the competitiveness that we're playing with in the first period is not close to being good enough."
Video: Forsberg, Arvidsson bemoan another poor start
"I feel like we're lucky to be in the game in the first [period]," Preds forward Viktor Arvidsson said. "[Goaltender Pekka Rinne] made some huge saves in the first period that kept us in the game. The second period was different, we came out and we battled and got to their net and played in the o-zone and we're almost about to tie it [in the third period]. I feel like we stepped up in the second and third, but the first wasn't good."
The Panthers had a 2-0 lead after the first period with goals from Carter Verhaeghe and Mason Marchment, and Jonathan Huberdeau made it 3-0 for Florida 59 seconds into the second stanza when he beat Rinne, who made 15 saves in the opening 20 minutes.
Video: FLA@NSH: Ekholm rips puck home to get Preds on board
Nashville got on the board twice in the period, however, with the first tally coming from Mattias Ekholm, who potted his fourth goal in his last four outings. Aaron Ekblad got Florida's fourth of the night late in the period, but before the second was out, Filip Forsberg tipped home an Arvidsson feed past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to cut the Florida lead to two goals once more.
Video: FLA@NSH: Forsberg scores in 2nd period
The Panthers added two more in the third, to take a 5-2 lead, but Colton Sissons got Nashville's third of the night, and Ryan Johansen brought the Preds to within one late in regulation. That was as close as the Predators - who also had two goals negated in the period, one due to an offside review, the other on a delayed penalty - came to tying the score and forcing overtime.
Video: FLA@NSH: Sissons scores in 3rd period
"The second period, we started playing more over time our way, playing faster and playing a little stronger on the pucks," Forsberg said. "And then the third period we played to a higher level and then obviously creating tons with that, so there's definitely positives. We were down a couple, we come back, we make it a game, we're a couple shots away from tying it up, so that's a positive, but we have to not put ourselves in that start."
Video: FLA@NSH: Johansen scores in 3rd period
The Preds and Panthers will get together again on Saturday afternoon to finish off Nashville's five-game homestand, and they'd like to collect two points at home before embarking on an eight-game road trip that will see them face more of the Central Division's best - and the Predators will have to be ready to go right from the start.
"When we come out, we're slow and they're obviously playing way better than us in the first," Forsberg said. "When desperation hits, we're playing great, creating chances, obviously had a couple more chances that could have gone in… and we've just got to play like that from the start. It's obviously something we've said profusely a few times before, and, and it starts with me and everybody down the line."
Video: Panthers, 5 - Predators, 4
The Predators made a number of moves prior to Thursday's game:
- Forward Ryan Johansen was removed from the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list
- Activated forward Brad Richardson from injured reserve.
- Placed goaltender Juuse Saros on injured reserve (upper body).
- Recalled defenseman Ben Harpur and goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo from the taxi squad.
- Reassigned defenseman Alexandre Carrier to the taxi squad.
- Recalled forward Rem Pitlick and defenseman Jeremy Davies to the taxi squad from Chicago (AHL).
- Recalled goaltender Devin Cooley to the taxi squad from Florida (ECHL).
- Reassigned forward Tanner Jeannot to Chicago (AHL) from the taxi squad.
Yakov Trenin was Nashville's lone scratch on Thursday.
Nashville's five-game homestand concludes on Saturday afternoon (at 1 p.m. CT) at Bridgestone Arena with another meeting against the Panthers. That will then lead the Preds into an eight-game road trip that will take them to Dallas, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida and back to Dallas over the next two weeks.