SUNRISE, Fla. — Carter Verhaeghe had the go-ahead goal and an assist, and Aleksander Barkov also scored as the Florida Panthers defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Friday night.
Chris Drieger turned back 24 shots for Florida, which improved to 6-0-2.
Colton Sissons had the lone goal for the Predators, who split the two-game series. Pekka Rinne had 34 saves for Nashville.
Despite a season-high 20 shots in the first period, the Panthers were outworked early in their own zone and it proved costly. At the 4:04 mark, Sissons put the Predators ahead with his second goal this season.
Sissons’ shot that trickled past the stick side of Drieger was one of only four in that period for Nashville, which withstood two aggressive Florida power plays resulting in 10 of the 20 shots that frame.
The Predators applied plenty of pressure at the outset and set the tempo before Florida took charge with high-percentage chances in their offensive zone. However, Rinne was up to the challenge, limiting the Panthers’ ability to convert rebounds.
Florida picked up the pace in the second period and, six minutes in, Florida captain Barkov provided the equalizer with his fourth goal off a perfect cross-ice feed from Carter Verhaeghe.
Verhaeghe and Barkov worked their magic again at 15:31, this time with Verhaeghe finding an open net on the short side following a precision pass from Barkov for the 2-1 advantage. It was Verhaeghe’s team-leading sixth goal in eight games.
Each team had nine shots in the second period, but it was the Panthers’ tenacious attack by its top line and winning puck battles in the neutral zone that made the difference.
Predators: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning in a two-game set on Monday and Tuesday.
Panthers: Host Detroit Red Wings for two games, Sunday and Tuesday.
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Rick Menning, The Associated Press