It’s a new season, but the Florida Panthers lost their first exhibition game against the Nashville Predators in the same fashion as they lost many last season: late-game goals.
Nashville’s Jani Lujanen scored the game winner at 16:49 in the third to thwart a Panther comeback. Steven Reinprecht had a chance to answer and tie with under two minutes left but couldn’t finish a breakaway. Seconds later, Kyle Wilson iced it 19:08, giving the Preds a 5-3 win.
This game didn’t have much star power, as they are either getting the day off, or readying for the night session, and the play reflected it. The first period was physical almost from the outset, with Nashville’s Zack Stortini looking to have a go with anyone in a Panther sweater.
The offense started coming fast and furious in the second period. The Predators Kyle Wilson opened the scoring that was quickly answered by Dmitry Kulikov. Chris Mueller and Johathon Blum each put one past Bryan Foster (on his first two shots) to give the Predators a 3-1 lead. The Cats got one back as Mark Cullen scored with 43 seconds left (how’s that for a welcome change?)in the second to pull them to 3-2.
After Greg Rallo tied early in the third, the Cats had several chances to take the lead, including a late power play, but couldn’t convert.
Despite the late miss, Reinprecht made the most of the first line minutes (plus the minutes on the PK/PP units) he received in the game with Ryan Carter and Sean Bergenheim, catching the eye of coach Kevin Dineen:
“I like his training camp. It looks like he’s in good shape. It’s no message, but if I see someone with a jump that’s playing well, why wouldn’t you want him out there? So you can steal a few extra shifts for him on the power play, it give you a better chance to win”
Rhino said of his performance tonight after months spent in exile under former coach Pete DeBoer:
“I feel good out there. It would have been nice to finish that one with a minute left there, but that’s the way it is. I’ll put it in next time.”
Game 2 of the rare day/night hockey doubleheader starts at 7:30. Check back here for the recap!
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