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Jan 21, 2024 6:34 pm

Panthers aim to reverse recent luck in game at Predators

After a rare special teams breakdown, the Florida Panthers will try to end their four-game winless streak when they visit the Nashville Predators on Monday.

The Panthers have outshot their opponents in each of their last four games (for a 138-103 total), only to post a 0-2-2 record. The four-game drought has come on the heels of a nine-game winning streak for Florida, as the Panthers have been missing some of the all-around sharpness that powered that outstanding run.

For example, the Panthers’ normally strong penalty-kill unit was the culprit in Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Florida had limited opponents to five goals in 55 power-play chances in 19 games heading into Friday, except the Wild exploded to score on five of six power plays.

“We took a lot of penalties, and that’s tough,” said defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who had a goal and three assists Friday. “To get behind in a game like that against a good team, it’s never easy. Obviously our PK has been a strong suit for us … but (the Wild) did a good job tonight picking us apart.”

Perhaps a letdown was inevitable given how often the Panthers’ penalty-killers have been utilized. Florida is among the NHL’s leaders in penalty minutes (554) and penalties taken (207).

The Predators’ power-play unit fell a little short in their 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Roman Josi scored with the extra attacker early in the second period, but that was Nashville’s only strike in six power-play chances against Arizona.

“We just lost a little momentum in the second (period) and we had a couple shifts where sequencing led up to goals that kind of changed the flow of the game,” Predators coach Andrew Brunette said. “We had a hard time getting back on track after they made it 3-1.”

Josi’s goal was a milestone, as his 167 career goals is the most by a defenseman in Predators team history.

Monday’s home date is sandwiched between a pair of three-game road trips for the Predators. The team is a modest 13-11-0 at home this season, while the Panthers’ road record (14-7-2) is among the best in the NHL.

Juuse Saros will likely start his fifth consecutive game for Nashville. Saros is 18-17-1 with a .902 save percentage over 36 games this season.

Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after allowing four goals (all power-play markers) on 15 Minnesota shots. Bobrovsky has been excellent for much of the season, but has slumped to an .871 save percentage in his last five games. The Panthers might opt to give backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz a bit more playing time in an effort to keep Bobrovsky fresh for the playoff drive.

Filip Forsberg leads the Predators in points (49) and goals (22). The star forward is also one more helper away from his 300th career NHL assist.

Sam Reinhart has 13 points (10 goals, three assists) during his nine-game points streak, though his team-record eight-game scoring streak ended Friday. Reinhart leads the Panthers in points (57) and goals (33).

Aleksander Barkov leads Florida with 35 assists, but the forward is questionable for Monday’s lineup. Barkov has missed the Panthers’ last two games due to a lower-body injury.

–Field Level Media

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