The Nashville Predators returned from Ottawa to host the Florida Panthers on Saturday evening for Hockey Fights Cancer Night. The home team saw the return of former Pred, and current Panthers’ Head Coach, Andrew Brunette and former Pred Patric Hornqvist.  

The Predators played their first-ever NHL game against the Panthers on Oct. 10, 1998, in front of a sold-out crowd. On Oct. 13, 1998, Brunette recorded the first-ever Predators goal against Carolina. In the 2005 NHL Draft, Hornqvist was selected in the seventh round by Nashville where he would go on to record 216 points (106g-110a) in 363 games from 2008-2014.  

It’s not uncommon to see either of these teams fall behind early and make a comeback into the game, but the Panthers got on the board first with 16:17 left in the first. With a delayed penalty, Gustav Forsling and Brandon Montour pass back-and-forth once before Montour finds Carter Verhaeghe wide open. 

Just two minutes later, Filip Forsberg was behind the net of Spencer Knight when he found Ryan Johansen crashing the net. Johansen earned his 22nd goal of the season and climbed to 56 pts. He posted a three-game point streak vs. FL from Feb. 4-March 6. He now owns 12 pts. (4g, 8a) in 26 career contests. With the assist, Forsberg moved to 71 pts. (38g, 33a) this season. He has 20 pts (5g, 15a) in 19 career games vs. FL. 
The first period momentum fizzed out as teams went to the locker room with Panthers leading SOG, 6-5.

Forsberg had two great scoring opportunities early in the second period. Forsberg first stole the puck at the offensive blue line to create a breakaway before being denied. Right after the face-off, he launched a shot toward the net. Knight continued to step up when needed for his team. 

With 4:44 left in the second frame, Anton Lundell finds the top shelf to push a 2-1 lead.  
Midway through the third period, Knight skated between the two circles to retrieve a puck, and accidentally passed it to Roman Josi who was alongside the boards. Josi sent a shot to the empty net but was unable to tie things up.  

With 2:08 left, Juuse Saros is pulled for the Preds to take a 6-on-5 advantage. After a great sequence of scoring chances, the puck was finally cleared. However, Jonathan Huberdeau found the first empty net goal. He currently leads the League with 77 assists, and his 104 points pace the Panthers and rank second among all NHLers. 

After a timeout, the Preds choose to pull Saros once again. Just seconds later, Forsling earned his second point of the night with an empty net goal. The Panthers leave Nashville with a 4-1 victory. 
“We lose a Saturday night game at home, ones you always really want to win for the fans. It stings a little more,” said Johansen. “So, it’s a good thing we’re playing tomorrow. I think we’ll get on the flight and get right back to it and hopefully have a better performance.” 

The Predators are still looking to clinch their ticket into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins in a midday matchup on Sunday.