Novak scores twice as Predators defeat Panthers 7-3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tommy Novak scored twice and Roman Josi had a goal and two assists to lead the Nashville Predators over the Florida Panthers 7-3 on Saturday.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist and Matt Duchene, Colton Sissons and Yakov Trenin also scored for Nashville, which had lost three of its last four.
Kevin Lankinen made 30 saves for the Predators. Ryan McDonagh matched a career high with three assists.
Nick Cousins, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart scored for Florida. Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight combined for 19 saves. Brandon Montour had two assists.
“We just weren’t hard enough from the start and gave up way too many goals against obviously,” Tkachuk said. “We definitely didn’t start the game as well as we would have liked, that’s for sure.”
Both teams began Saturday on the outside of the playoff picture.
Florida trailed the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by a point, while the Predators moved within five points of Minnesota in the Western Conference wild-card race. Nashville has played two fewer games than the Wild, and the teams meet Sunday in Minnesota.
“You got to enjoy it a little bit and then get on the plane, and obviously a huge game tomorrow,” Josi said. “So we’ve got to take a lot of the good with us.”
The Predators led 3-2 after the first period on Johansen’s power-play goal at 15:01 off of a redirection of pass from Josi.
After Novak began the game’s scoring at 2:36 of the first, Cousins tied it at 7:55 of the first. Cousins, a former Predator, played in his 500th career NHL game.
Sissons’ breakaway goal at 7:40 of the second chased Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals on 11 shots.
“I got Bob out of there because I didn’t think it was going to be goaltending deciding the game,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “For us, he’s played a lot of hockey. It’s an awful lot for him, so give him a little bit of rest and give Spencer some work. It was ugly and it was over.”
Novak’s power-play goal at 8:58 of the third gave him the first two-goal game of his career.
“He’s a guy that has great poise with the puck and makes plays when he has time and space,” Predators coach John Hynes said of Novak.
Nashville scored a pair of power-play goals on three chances.
Entering Saturday, Nashville’s power play had connected just once in 11 opportunities in the last four games. The Panthers have allowed five power-play goals over the last three games.
Florida defenseman Radko Gudas exited in the second period and did not return to the game.
With the Panthers on a penalty kill to start the second, Gudas blocked a shot by Josi 1:10 into the period. He kept just one hand on his stick for the remainder of his shift, which ended 13 seconds later.
Maurice did not have an update on Gudas after the game.
FORSBERG STILL OUT
Filip Forsberg, Nashville’s leading goal scorer, missed his third straight game. He was injured in the first period of last Saturday’s road game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Forsberg is listed as day to day with an upper-body injury.
Predators: Visit the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Panthers: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
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