After 24 days away from FLA Live Arena, the Florida Panthers returned home, riding a three-game road winning streak. The first place team in the East faced off against a Nashville Predators side that dropped their last four games heading into Tuesday night’s matchup.
Nashville was able to spoil the homecoming and snap their losing streak, handing Florida their fourth loss at home this season.
Here are the takeaways.
Sam Reinhart adds to his point streak
Sam Reinhart entered tonight with points in his last six games and the Panthers forward wasted no time adding to his hot streak against Nashville. 6:45 into the first, Reinhart scored his 18th goal of the season and sixth on the powerplay to put the Cats up 1-0.
On Florida’s first powerplay unit, Reinhart is usually the low guy, sitting just around the goal line. His playmaking and goal scoring abilities make him extremely valuable to the Cats PP because he can feed his teammates in front of goal or power himself to the front of the net and shoot himself. Once again he found an opportunity from below the goal and buried the puck past Rittich.
Bill Zito reeled in a big fish this offseason and it continues to look like a steal of a trade.
Huby for Hart continues
Every edition of this season’s takeaways could include Jonathan Huberdeau and that’s not a bad thing. He extended both his assist and point streak to eight games. He picked up his 71st and 72nd point of the year, putting him back atop the NHL scoring race. Himself and the Edmonton Oilers duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Drasaitl have been trading places all season for the point lead.
Over his eight game point streak, Huberdeau has 14 points, 13 of those being assists.
Two Norris Trophy front runners battled in Sunrise
The tale of the tape for tonight’s game highlighted Nashville’s Roman Josi and Florida’s Aaron Ekblad. The two defensemen have been tearing it up this season and are constantly in the discussion for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the best defenseman in the NHL.
Both Ekblad and Josi came into the matchup with five game point streaks and 13 goals. By the end of the second period, their goal totals and point streak totals were at 14 and six respectively.
Nashville’s captain already has one Norris Trophy to his name and has been one of the best defenseman in the league for years. Ekblad is still looking for his first career Norris, but the 26-year-old is sure to get some votes at the end of this season.
Watching tonight’s game it was clear how important both players are to their team. Josi leads his team in points, is the captain and the most noticeable Predator on the ice. Likewise for Ekblad, he is the lone D on the powerplay, kills penalties and is the bonafide NO.1 defenseman on the Panthers.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these guys as a Norris finalist this year.
Two goal lead turns into quick collapse
Midway through the second, Florida looked to be in the driver’s seat. Radko Gudas scored his first goal of the season and Aaron Ekblad tucked a highlight worthy goal eight minutes later, propelling Florida to a 3-1 lead. About 90 seconds after Ekblad’s goal, Nashville put two past Bobrovsky, tying the game in the blink of an eye.
Seeing a two goal lead disappear in under two minutes isn’t something that helped the Panthers as they lost multiple leads tonight in the loss.
Does Bob need a break?
Sergei Bobrovsky has been playing lots of hockey. He’s started every game since the Panthers returned to play against Carolina on Feb. 16. That’s four games in six days.
This game isn’t on him, but that’s a lot of minutes for a goalie, especially after a road trip. Spencer Knight is still in the AHL with Charlotte and the Cats backup goalie Jonas Johansson has yet to play a game with Florida.
Who gets the net next game?