The Florida Panthers of Monday night are who the Nashville Predators seek to be.
Unfortunately for the Predators, that goal might be further away than one would hope after falling 4-1 to the Panthers Monday at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville surrendered two empty-net goals in the final two minutes.
With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s a look at what went right and what didn’t in the Predators’ loss to the Panthers on Monday:
(-) Allowing bad goals in bad moments
Despite a disappointing first period, the Predators responded in the second, narrowing the shot gap of the period to 14-12 and entering the second intermission tied 1-1. But 1:11 into the third, forward Carter Verhaegue put the Panthers on top 2-1, which would force the Predators to chase the game for the rest of the third.
Brunette pointed out the Predators give up goals at the most inopportune times, stating it’s been a trend the team has struggled with at different points this season.
“I think going into the third letting a goal in 1:20 in has kind of been, again, it’s happened way too often this year,” he remarked. “It happened again tonight.”
(+) Juuse Saros
Defensively, the Predators struggled with Florida’s physicality and speed as they were overwhelmed in the first period. Though the first ended tied at 0, the Panthers dictated the pace of play early on, outshooting the Predators 14-4 and clearly dominating the action.
Saros was in peak form, saving his team from complete disaster and ending the night with 0.85 goals-saved above expected, per Money Puck, and a .944 save percentage while stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced. When Saros is on, it’s noticeable. He’s kept the Predators team in the hunt recently, but he cannot be expected to keep the team in the every game every night without a bit more goal support.
“I mean he was great,” Colton Sissons said of Saros after Monday’s loss. “Yeah, some big saves for us and was getting a lot of work.”
(-) Finishing ability
According to Money Puck, the Predators had 2.35 expected goals but only logged the one from Jeremy Lauzon in the second period. That number seems a bit low as Filip Forsberg had a point-blank chance in front of Florida’s net, Tommy Novak had a prime chance alone in the slot, and Gustav Nyquist with a had a good chance back-door on the backhand, though all three failed to convert.
Head coach Andrew Brunette’s coaching style is meant to be fast paced, but the Panthers took it to Nashville. Failing to put the puck in the back of the net makes it more difficult for the Predators to have any kind of success in all three phases with everything running through the offense. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. The silver lining is the Predators did create some decent chances.
“I think a lot of guys probably lack a bit of confidence right now,” Brunette said. “We generated a bunch tonight, or some, enough to at least put us in an overtime game. We’re just not finishing and it’s kind of been a little bit of the story here the last week.”
Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10