|@ Predators (13-8-4)||0||1||0||1|
The first few minutes of the period proved that this game will be a battle of the goaltenders. Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo were each faced with great scoring chances, but the game remained scoreless through the first five. After those first five minutes, Jaromir Jagr was called for hooking and the Panthers got their first penalty of the game. The penalty was killed with ease, just like the Panthers have done in past games during this road trip. Jagr had a close call right out of the penalty box, but it just barely was stopped by Rinne. The next ten minutes were fairly back-and-forth. Every time the Panthers shot, the Predators made a retaliatory move. Then, Quinton Howden did something great. He got ahold of the puck and scored a wrist shot on the odd man rush. The goal was assisted by Connor Brickley and Willie Mitchell. The Predators tried to retaliate as they had done in the past, but the Panthers’ defense, and Erik Gudbranson in particular, prevented the Preds from gaining momentum. At the end of the period, the Panthers led the Predators 1-0. The Panthers had 7 shots on goal while the Predators had 5. The Panthers did everything right this period, aside from the Jagr penalty. They played both offensively and defensively and shot at every chance they could. The Panthers did not let the skilled Predators team intimidate them. If the Cats play like this in the next two periods, they should win this game without much trouble.
Some quick saves by Luongo kept the Panthers in the lead early in the second. However, he had to make more of these saves than he probably should have in the first half of the period. The Predators were starting to pick up the pace. With 10:14 left in the period, the Panthers got their first power play of the game when Shea Weber was called for delay of game. The Panthers are much better on the power play at home than on the road, but they were able to decrease the validity of this stat when they were able to get the puck past Rinne for the second time this game. Jonathan Huberdeau scored, a rare occurrence this season. The goal was assisted by Aleksander Barkov and Steven Kampfer. This was Kampfer’s first point of the season. The Panthers were playing a great defensive game considering the Predators are well known for being skilled at tightening up their defense in front of their own net. Yet, this did not stop Roman Josi from scoring with just over two minutes left in the period. At the end of the period, the Panthers led the Predators 2-1. The Panthers had 12 shots on goal and the Predators had 22. The Cats played well in this frame, but not nearly as well as they did in the first. The team had trouble shooting the puck and maintaining possession, and they were only able to score on the power play.
The final period started off like the first two: fairly even. Then, nearly three minutes in, Brandon Pirri was penalized for hooking. The penalty was killed, but it was no easy task to do so. Luongo had to keep making saves like he did in the penalty kill in order to keep the Panthers in the lead, but he did so with great valor. At one point, Jagr high sticked Shea Weber and then made a point to apologize deeply for it. The Panthers were looking tired, while the Predators were still going strong. The Panthers were slipping but despite this, they still continued to play all four lines. Thankfully, Luongo was looking sharp as ever. Quinton Howden tripped James Neal but thankfully, James Neal was called for embellishment and the play was 4-on-4. With about 2:30 left, Pekka Rinne left the net and there was a minute of 5-on-4. The Panthers got close to scoring on the empty net multiple times but were unable to do so. With 30 seconds left, the Predators scored a goal, or so they thought. The goal was waived off on the ice because it went off of the goalpost and the crossbar but never into the goal. The net remained empty for the Predators but it was no use. The Panthers won their 4th straight game, 2-1.
Quinton Howden scored a beautiful wrister to put the Panthers on the board early in the game. Then, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the game-winning goal on a power play. Erik Gudbranson and Willie Mitchell both played great defensive games and were the reason that the Panthers were able to compete with the Predators’ skilled defense. Then, who could forget Luongo, who saved 32 of 33 shots and essentially ensured the Panthers the win.
The Panthers are back at it tomorrow night for the penultimate game of the road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:00 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.