The Florida Panthers got their season started off with a bang taking both games of their day/night doubleheader against the Nashville Predators. The early game was a 6-3 Panthers victory and the evening game, while much closer, also went to the Panthers 3-2 in overtime.
The Panthers got off to a shaky start in game one falling behind 3-1 in the first period. Scottie Upshall tallied the team’s only first period goal. The Predators may have had the early edge but the second and third periods were all Panthers. Florida scored five unanswered goals in the final two frames en route to the 6-3 win. Erik Gudbranson scored two second period goals and Brian Boyle, Scottie Upshall and Quinton Howden each scored in the third.
Gudbranson also added an assist and was named the first star of the game. With two goals, Upshall claimed the second star while Vincent Trocheck’s three assist performance was good enough for third star honors.
Dov Grumet-Morris started in net for the Panthers and stopped 13 of 16 shots. Rob Madore finished off the game stopping all five shots he faced. The Panthers outshot Nashville 41-21 in what turned out to be a lopsided affair.
In game two Jared Gomes and Tomas Kopecky scored in regulation while Tomas Fleischmann scored the overtime winner 4:13 into the extra frame. Aleksander Barkov, the number two overall pick in the 2013 draft, got on the scoresheet assisting on Kopecky’s goal. Defenseman MacKenzie Weegar– who was taken in the seventh round of the 2013 draft (206th overall)– also assisted on the Kopecky goal. Weegar led the Panthers in ice time with 26:19. The Predator’s first round draft pick, defenseman Seth Jones, played 25:45 and finished the night at -1.
In net for the Panthers, Jacob Markstrom stopped 15 of 17 shots and was named the game’s second star. Michael Houser played the game’s final 24 minutes and stopped all 13 shots that he faced.
The preseason results may not officially matter but for a team that endured so much defeat last season, a win is a win and dammit if it doesn’t feel good. Share your thoughts about the game in the comments section below or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.