After the shortest offseason in franchise history, hockey is back in Smashville. The Nashville Predators started the preseason with a double header against the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators split their 53 man roster into two teams to play the back-to-back games.
In Game 1, the Panthers took the early lead with 16:28 remaining in the first period with a goal from Henrik Haapala on the power play. During the 2nd period, Connor Brickley netted his first of the night to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. However, Cody McLeod and Emil Pettersson scored five minutes apart to tie the game 2-2.
The Panthers were able to retake the lead 1:43 into the 3rd period with Connor Brickley’s second goal of the night. Panthers defensemen, Michael Matheson, scored on the power play to give them a 4-2 lead with 9:08 remaining in regulation. Less than one minute later, Viktor Arvidsson scored with a one-timer from the left wing circle which made the score 4-3.
With a late empty net goal by Denis Malgin, the Panthers were able to come away with the 5-3 victory. Connor Brickley, a second-round Florida draft pick in the 2010 NHL draft, had two goals and an assist. The new 2017 rule changes implemented by the NHL certainly had an impact on the game with a total of 34 minutes in penalties. Florida had a total of four power plays whereas the Predators had a total of eight.
In Game 2, the Panthers once again got the first goal of the game on a power play goal by Vincent Trocheck with 4:12 remaining in the 1st period. The Predators, however, responded with goals from Miikka Salomaki and Colton Sissons three minutes apart to give the Preds a 2-1 lead late in the 2nd period. During the 3rd period, Predators goaltender Anders Lindback made several incredible saves to keep the Preds lead at 2-1, with one getting the well deserved “Monster Block”.
Sadly, while Lindback was trying to clear the puck during a shorthanded situation, an unfortunate rebound off of the body of Panthers forward Jared McCann put the puck into an empty net to tie thegame 2-2. But the Predators did not give up, and with 1:53 remaining in OT Miikka Salomaki scored his second goal of the night to give the Predators the victory. Once again penalties and power plays were frequent, with the Panthers finishing the game with nine power plays and the Predators finished with four.
The Predators will continue their six game preseason schedule on Friday, September 22nd with a road game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 6:30 pm. The team will return home on Thursday, September 28 to face Seth Jones and the Columbus Blue Jackets in Bridgestone Arena at 7:00 pm.