Central-leading Preds visit Panthers

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Nashville Predators will try for a fourth win in
five games, as the Central Division leaders visit the Florida Panthers for
Sunday’s encounter at BB&T Center.

Nashville, which leads St. Louis by two points for the top spot in the
division, is 3-1-0 in February and is coming off Saturday’s close win over the
New York Rangers.

Mike Ribeiro reached a milestone by scoring the go-ahead goal with 7:14
remaining in the third period as the Predators edged the visiting Rangers,
3-2, on Saturday afternoon. The tally was his 700th NHL point and helped the
Predators rebound from Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Anaheim that snapped a
franchise-record, nine-game home win streak.

Roman Josi and Shea Weber had goals 41 seconds apart late in the second period
for Nashville, which got 30 saves from Pekka Rinne. Rinne returned to action
against the Ducks after missing eight games with a knee injury.

Backup Carter Hutton could get the start on Sunday. He has never faced the

In injury news, Predators forward Colin Wilson left Saturday’s game with an
upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Nashville may need at least a point Sunday to keep sole possession of first
place in the Central, as the Blues are scheduled to play this afternoon
against Chicago. The Predators also trail Anaheim by one point for the Western
Conference and NHL leads. The Ducks play today in Tampa.

After posting recent wins over the New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings,
the Panthers will try to match their longest winning streak of the season this
afternoon. Florida’s lone three-game winning streak came from Jan. 8-11.

The Panthers rallied for Thursday’s win over the Kings, scoring the game’s
final two goals for a 3-2 decision.

L.A. grabbed a 2-1 lead on Marian Gaborik’s power-play goal at 2:19 of the
third period, but Nick Bjugstad tied the contest at the 7:26 mark before
Brandon Pirri delivered the game-winner with 3:05 remaining in regulation.

Pirri scored after collecting a loose puck in the left circle with three Kings
players in the vicinity. He has scored in four straight games and has nine
markers on the season.

Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers, while Roberto Luongo posted 29
saves for the win.

“We had a great response, we stuck with it and we scored a couple of big
goals,” said Luongo.

Luongo could start again today for the playoff-hopeful Panthers. The veteran
netminder is 16-13-1 with a 2.18 GAA in his career against Nashville.

The Panthers are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference playoff race and
sit seven points behind Boston for the last wild card spot.

Florida is playing the middle test of a three-game homestand and will close
the stay at BB&T Center in Tuesday’s clash with Anaheim. The Cats are 11-8-4
as the host.