Saturday, March 3, 2012

Preds escape Florida with win

The Nashville Predators defeated the Florida Panthers by a 3-1 score on Saturday night in Sunrise. It was Nashville's fifth win in their past seven games, and they now have 83 points on the year through 65 games.

Andrei Kostitsyn got the Predators on the board in the first period. Kostitsyn made a great play to stay onside, and then showed great patience bringing the puck into the offensive zone. He fired an impressive snap shot that beat Scott Clemmensen on the stick side to put the Predators up 1-0.

Nashville came out flying in the second period and got rewarded with a Mike Fisher goal just 28 seconds into the second period. Martin Erat made a great play to retrieve the puck behind the Florida net and fired a nifty pass to Fisher for the goal.

Florida responded at 7:49 of the second period on a tic-tac-toe play that was finished off by Wojtek Wolski. The Panthers capitalized on a defensive lapse by the Predators, and Wolski essentially had a wide open net after a great pass from Marcel Goc. The Panthers entered the third period trailing by just one goal.

In the third period, the Predators got great goaltending from Pekka Rinne. The Panthers out-shot the Predators by a 16-9 margin in the final frame but were unable to sneak one by Rinne. David Legwand gave the Predators a two-goal lead when he scored on a beautiful backhand move on a breakaway. Andrei Kostitsyn made a beautiful pass up the middle that caught the Panthers on a line change, and Legwand was able to sneak it by Clemmensen.

Florida would put some pressure on the Predators near the end of the third period, but Rinne came up big. Paul Gaustad, who made his debut for the Predators on Saturday night, won two critical faceoffs in the defensive zone during the third period. Nashville was able to escape with a 3-1 victory despite being out-shot by a 40-23 margin.

The Predators will begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday night when they host the Los Angeles Kings at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is still within striking distance of the Central Divsion title, so they will need as many wins as they can possibly get.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Andrei Kostitsyn (NSH)
2. Pekka Rinne (NSH)
3. Paul Gaustad (NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Pekka Rinne (NSH)
2. Andrei Kostitsyn (NSH)
3. Wojtek Wolski (FLA)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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