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Reinhart, Verhaeghe & Stolarz Lead Panthers to Win in Nashville

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Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz makes a glove save on Gustav Nyquist during the third period Monday night in Nashville. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

When the Florida Panthers need a goal, they have come to rely on two players during the 2023-24 season: Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe — and did so again Monday night in Nashville.

They both came to play and helped the Panthers snap a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

After Juuse Saros endured a barrage of scoring chances to start the game, Reinhart was the first to slip one past the Predators goalie 11:19 into the second period.

To that point, the Panthers outshot the Predators 21-9.

But Reinhart ended Saros’ dominance with a quick snipe off of a face-off, which marked quite a few milestones for him.

The goal marked his career-high 34th of the year, extending his point streak to nine games and his road goal-scoring streak to a franchise-record seven games.

“He is scoring in all kinds of different ways,” coach Paul Maurice said. “He’s just been so good, and I understand why we’re talking about his goals, but the defensive part of his game is so good, right? He’s a penalty killer, he’s a face-off man, he does it all.”

While Jeremy Lauzon answered with a tying goal for Nashville less than a minute later, another usual suspect waited in the wings for Florida.

Verhaeghe took a stretch pass from Sam Bennett on a 2-on-2 rush, made a cut around a defender, and unleashed his quick, deadly wrist shot to give the Panthers the lead 1:11 into the third period.

It was his 24th of the year and his 13th third-period goal, tied for the league lead.

Behind a strong third-period performance from Anthony Stolarz and the penalty kill, those two goals were all Florida needed.

Stolarz stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period, including a sprawling glove save with 12:34 to go, to shut things down.

He made 26 of 27 saves overall.

“He was huge,” Bennett said. “He made some unbelievable saves, which gave us life and kept us in the game. That’s all you can ask for a goalie and it was fun to watch him flash some leather tonight.”

The penalty kill needed to bounce back from a historic 1-for-6 meltdown in its previous game after the Panthers took three straight penalties late in the third period.

Florida killed them all off, allowing just five shots, and killed off all five penalties it took overall.

Without two of their best penalty killers in Sasha Barkov and Gus Forsling.

“Barkov is a good penalty killer, and Forsling is too,” Maurice said. “But the other guys can get it done, and in that case, you need your goaltender to be good. And he was.

“The power play and the penalty kill are the same in that if you’re a confident group, you’re faster, and you’re looking to knock more pucks down, and you’re a better group. Our confidence took a hit in that last game, and they responded very well.”

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ON DECK

ARIZONA COYOTES @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Arizona: Panthers 4, Coyotes 1 (Jan 2). At Florida: Wednesday.
  • Last Season: Tied 1-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Tied, 20-20, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

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