Riding a nine-game home winning streak and going up against a backup goalie should meant good tidings for the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
Sure, the high-flying Panthers got their goals.
Just not enough.
The Panthers saw their second-longest winning streak in franchise history (and of this season) come to a close as the Nashville Predators were the team to rally in Sunrise, scoring twice in the third period to beat the Panthers 6-4 at FLA Live Arena.
Nashville’s win not only spoiled Florida’s long winning streak, but it definitely threw a wet blanked over a fantastic goal from Aaron Ekblad which gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.
The Predators, which had not won a game since before the All-Star break, gave goalie David Rittich a surprise start and midway through the second, it looked like that decision could come back to haunt them.
Florida led scored twice in the second period — one off Ekblad’s spectacular breakaway — to take a 3-1 lead.
Only within a span of 37 seconds, Nashville scored two of its own and the two teams went into the third tied at 3.
The Panthers led 1-0 6:45 in when Sam Reinhart took a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau, went to the front of the net and scored.
The score was tied going into the second but Radko Gudas gave Florida the lead back by scoring his first of the season off a long shot from the inside of the blueline that found its way through traffic.
Ekblad made it 3-1 midway through the period with the highlight goal of a career season.
After Anton Lundell got forced off the puck in the Florida zone, Nashville’s Ryan Johansen tried to get the puck up ice and threw a high shot over the neutral zone.
Ekblad left his skates to knock the pass out of the air and took off it with, working his way around Mattias Ekholm before scoring on Rittich.
That goal pushed Ekblad past Roman Josi for second place among NHL defensemen in goals.
It was a shortlived lead — for both Ekblad and the Panthers.
Just over a minute later, Josi scored to make it 3-2 at 10:44.
A long stretch pass from Dante Fabbro to Yakov Trenin (and a sweet backhanded shot) made it a 3-3 game.
Florida had a number of shots to try and take the lead back — one of the best was Sasha Barkov breaking loose on a shorthanded chance. Rittich stopped him.
The Panthers got the lead back 8:11 into the third when Sam Bennett got his 22nd of the season.
It appeared as if the Preds tied the score just 14 seconds later, but Florida’s video challenge showed Luke Kunin interfered with (speared?) Bobrovsky before putting the puck in the back of the net.
Florida won the challenge and kept its 4-3 advantage — for a minute or two, anyway.
Not only did the Predators tie the score on a shorthanded breakaway from Tanner Jeannot with 9:19 remaining, but they took their first lead of the night with 5:31 remaining on a power play goal from Mikael Granlund.
The Predators scored an empty net to finish things off.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Filip Forsberg, Nashville
2. Roman Josi, Nashville
3. Tanner Jeannot, Nashville
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- Streaming only: Hulu/ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- Last season: Florida won 7-0-1
- This season — Florida leads 2-0: @Florida 9, Columbus 2 (Jan. 15); Florida 8, @Columbus 4 (Jan. 31)
- All-time regular season series: Columbus leads 24-15-4