SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Chris Driedger stopped 21 shots, Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair scored, and the Florida Panthers dominated the Nashville Predators in a 2-0 victory Saturday.
Nashville’s Juuse Saros stopped 47 of 48 shots, but the Predators couldn’t solve Driedger, making his first start since March 7.
”Those games when the other goalie is putting on a show can get a little dicey,” Driedger said. ”You have to make sure you’re sharp. I saw the pucks that came my way and it ended up working out.”
Saros tied his career high for saves after stopping 42 shots Thursday in a 2-1 win over Florida.
”I felt like I was playing my own game,” he said. ”I was seeing the pucks well and there were some good blocks in front of me. The (Barkov) goal was a tough one to give up. We gave it a good effort.”
Barkov backhanded in a rebound 9:15 into the second period for his 13th goal, and Duclair added an empty-netter with 15 seconds left. Florida improved to 9-0-1 following a loss this season. The Panthers and Winnipeg Jets are the only teams without consecutive defeats in regulation this season.
Duclair and MacKenzie Weegar assisted on Barkov’s goal, and Weegar stretched his career-best points streak to seven games.
Florida stayed relentless in the offensive zone throughout for first 40 minutes, winning puck battles and keeping Nashville under continual pressure. The Predators had a chance at the equalizer on Nick Cousins’ point-blank shot shortly after Barkov’s goal, but Driedger grabbed it out of mid air.
The Panthers dominated the first period with a 22-7 shot advantage. Six of those attempts came during a 4-minute roughing penalty to the Predators’ Mathieu Olivier.
”It was one of those games where we looked like we’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink,” Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. ”Whether it was a save or unable-to-score race, I don’t think we deviated from how we were going about our game.”
Saros came up big time and again, holding down numerous Panthers’ surges.
”He was fantastic,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. ”He kept us in the game. Florida came out really hard and played a thorough game.”
Florida forward Patric Hornqvist played in his 800th NHL game, becoming the 32nd native of Sweden to reach that milestone.
Hornqvist has produced four points (2-2-4) over his past six outings. The 34-year-old veteran is tied for second on the Panthers in goals with 11 and has 24 points (11-13-24) over 29 games in his first season with Florida.
The game was witnessed by 4,358 fans, just slightly under the 25% capacity at the BB&T Center.
Florida visits Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Nashville visits Dallas on Sunday.
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