The Nashville Predators used two goals from 21-year-old forward Pontus Aberg and 22 saves from Pekka Rinne for a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
Mere hours after closing out an afternoon shootout win over the Panthers, the Predators were true for the second time, winning both games of the doubleheader.
For the fourth-straight time, the Predators opened the scoring in the game - a feat they’ve accomplished in all of their preseason games - as Aberg collected his first goal of the evening with a seeing-eye wrister from the right-wing wall.
“It was kind of a lucky goal to get past someone like [Roberto Luongo],” Aberg said. “I just threw it at the goal and it found its way in. Our line was really clicking tonight, that’s how I was able to get another one later.”
The Predators offense contributed four goals in the second game of the day, but it was their defense that paced them throughout the two contests. Limiting the Panthers to two goals across 125 minutes, Nashville’s defense was stout during both outings.
Nashville exclusively used their NHL goaltending tandem for the two games; Carter Hutton notched a win in the afternoon contest, while Rinne followed suit in the second game.
“It’s just nice to get a full game under your belt,” Rinne said. “That hasn’t happened in a few months now, so it’s fun to get back out there. I thought that we played really well overall. I liked the way we played. We played a really aggressive style of play. I thought we played really well and deserved to win.”
All four of Florida’s netminders saw time during the two preseason tilts; Al Montoya and Sam Brittain skated in the afternoon game, and Luongo and Dan Ellis played in the finale.
After Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic tied the contest at one in the opening period, the Predators notched the final three goals of the game on their way to a three-goal win.
“I hate losing,” Florida forward Shawn Thornton said. “We have a lot of guys that are new. Coaching is new, and a lot of guys are still getting used to the system. I think for the most part the work ethic has been there. The system will come. Playing with each other for the first time, you start to figure out a lot of each other’s tendencies with a little bit of time and practice.”
Nashville’s first-round pick this summer, forward Kevin Fiala rifled a wrister past Luongo to push the Predators lead to 3-1 in second frame.
“We had a faceoff then I got the puck from Ribeiro, [he] gave a pass to Neal, Neal gave it back to me and I just shot it. It was a nice goal,” Fiala said. “It was my first goal in Nashville. Hopefully I’m going to keep them coming.”
The back-to-back wins on Saturday runs the Predators record to 3-1-0 this preseason. The Panthers suffered their first regulation loss of the exhibition schedule during the evening game and now stand at 0-1-2.