Seth Jones hit the post in the dying seconds, but the Nashville Predators couldn’t find the equalizer before they fell 2-1 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds outplayed and outchanced Florida through the final two periods of the contest, but a 2-0 deficit ultimately proved to be too much.
“It didn’t bounce our way [tonight],” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “I thought we played well in the second and third and just couldn’t find a way to get that goal. It would’ve been nice if that one bounced in, but it didn’t and that’s the way it’s kind of been going.”
Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne made a miraculous stick save on Tuesday against Arizona, and he followed it up by robbing Florida’s Jaromir Jagr with the paddle in the opening frame on Thursday. Rinne lunged to his right and caught a piece of the shot with his paddle before knocking it away from the crease with the butt end of his stick. Later in the period, Quinton Howden put Florida up 1-0 on a partial breakaway, beating Rinne to give the Panthers the lead headed into the first intermission.
After Jonathan Huberdeau converted on a power-play opportunity to put the Panthers up 2-0 midway through the second, Preds defenseman Roman Josi dropped a pass back to Craig Smith, seconds before deflecting Smith’s shot past the glove of Roberto Luongo to give Nashville their first tally of the night and cut the lead to one.
Nashville continued to pressure in the third period, and had a number of opportunities in the final minutes of the contest, including the shot of the post with just 31 seconds to play.
The loss pushed the Preds record to 1-2-0 to finish out their three-game home stretch, a mark that is less than ideal, especially when the team continues to be predominantly pleased with their on-ice execution.
“[The season] is 82 games, so you’re going out there and we have a rough stretch; you have to keep looking at positives and continue with those and look at what you did wrong as well and learn from it,” defenseman Barret Jackman said. “Right now, we’re feeling like we’re playing a lot cleaner game, but the results are going to come. It is two steps forward, one backward, but we need to keep going ahead.”
The Predators now head out on the road for a three-game set, beginning in Detroit on Saturday night, and they know they’ll need to be sharp away from home to get out of the current funk.
“Everybody goes through it throughout the course of the year, where you hit a patch and you look at a 10-game segment and you’ve only won two or three games and you’re disappointed about it,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “There have been games I thought we played well and we haven’t won. We’re going to go back out on the road now, and we have to take care of business out there.”
Gif of the Game:
Pekka Rinne does the unthinkable as he keeps the puck from fully crossing the goal line.
Pekka Rinne notches a spectacular save for the second consecutive game by spinning to paddle away a puck that hits his stick twice before staying out of the cage.
Barret Jackman on the Preds finding a way to prevail and string wins together:
“We just have to keep playing our game. We have an identity here in Nashville that’s hard-nosed, straightforward, fast type of game. You have to continue doing that and eventually some bounces are going to go your way, but it’s not going to change unless you have hard work. If we continue to work hard and create chances with work ethic, we’ll eventually be on the winning end.”
Preds forward Colin Wilson returned to the lineup against the Panthers after missing Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury.
Nashville heads out on the road to face Detroit on Saturday, followed by trips to Boston on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday.
The Panthers recorded their first victory in Music City in nearly 16 years tonight. Prior to Tuesday’s 2-1 win, Florida’s last triumph at Bridgestone had come on Dec. 11, 1999.
Tonight's infographic spotlights the location of each goal scored and the save percentage for the men between the pipes.
Infographic: Preds Bitten by Panthers