Sunrise, FL – The Florida Panthers closed out a two-game home set against the Nashville Predators, Saturday afternoon, taking out Nashville with a dominant 2-0 win. The Ice Cats outshot the Predators 48-21 on the day, dominating possession and not allowing the Preds to find any footing in the offensive zone. Anthony Duclair was the catalyst of the win as he set up the first goal and scored the backbreaker in the waning seconds of the game.
“We didn’t give them anything today, ” said Panthers keeper Chris Driedger. “My job was pretty straight forward and we are feeling good and happy with where we are at, but we have to keep going and finish strong.”
To Catch a Predator
As always, the Ice Cats came out on fire, drawing two penalties and outshooting Nashville 22-7 in the first period. Unfortunately, Florida came up empty in both power-play situations as the Predator’s Juuse Saros continued to stonewall the Panthers.
Fun side note, when the Panthers and Preds meet up you know there is going to be some chippy play. Unshockingly, we got a fight in the first period. Florida’s resident gladiator, Radko Gudas, did not take kindly to the rough stuff from Mathieu Olivier and voiced his displeasure with his fists. After that, Olivier would also get charged with a roughing penalty while Gudas went free.
The first period would come to a close with a Predators power-play as Aleksander Barkov got hit with a high sticking call trying to fight off a defenseman on the forecheck. Driedger and the penalty kill team did a good job to send the two sides into the locker rooms locked at 0-0.
The Panthers picked up right where they left off, taking it to the Predators, but the back of the net continued to elude them.
Nashville picked things up as well, finding their footing on the offensive end. In addition, the Predators created a 3-1 rush in the seventh minute but an acrobatic save and cover-up by Driedger kept them off the board.
20 wins for the Cats and I’m feelin good pic.twitter.com/ktpI4QHN5m
— Chris Driedger (@ChrisDriedger) March 20, 2021
The Ice Cats finally broke through in the ninth minute. Anthony Duclair got out on the break and set up MacKenzie Weegar right in front of the net. The shot was stopped but bounced out to Barkov who finished the chance.
The final minute of the second period saw the Ice Cats on its third power play of the day but could not sneak in a second before the horn sounded, with Florida ahead 1-0.
Early in the third period, it looked as if the Predators were going to tie up the game, but a fantastic double save by Driedger kept the clean sheet alive.
With 10 minutes left to play in what can be generously be described as, “a soft high-sticking call” was made on the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau. The call put Nashville on the power play. However, Florida quickly responded as Barkov nearly doubled the Ice Cats lead with a shorthanded goal that was barely kept out of the net.
The two teams would trade power plays near the end of the final period, with neither able to cash in.
The final seconds saw the Predators go with an empty net. The Panthers were up to the task, keeping them off the scoreboard and adding a goal for good measure as Duclair put in an empty netter to give the Ice Cats a 2-0 victory.
“I like how we played and battled today, ” said Florida Head Coach Joel Quenneville. “There are some positive things to take away from a tight game but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
No rest for the weary as the Panthers are on the road tomorrow to take on Tampa Bay with sole possession of first place in the Central Division on the line. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m. EST.
With a 2-0 victory vs. NSH today, the #FlaPanthers reached their 20th win of the season in their 30th game, marking the second-fewest games in franchise history needed to reach their 20th win of the season (29 games, 1995-96). pic.twitter.com/iBOYP0lgeH
— Florida Panthers PR (@FlaPanthersPR) March 20, 2021
The Duke’s Stars of the Game
1. Anthony Duclair | 1g, 1a
2. Chris Driedger | 21 saves, 100% SV%
3. Aleksander Barkov | 1g, Game Winner
📸 Credit: Eliot J Schechter