Preds hope for return of offense against Panthers

( – The Nashville Predators tied a franchise record for
goals earlier in the week, but they were unable to carry that offense over
into the next game.

The Preds hope to return to the win column when they host the Florida Panthers
in Saturday’s clash at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville recorded a 9-2 victory Tuesday in Toronto to match the club mark for
most goals in a game. However, the Predators only managed two goals Thursday
night in Ottawa, and as a result had their win streak snapped at two games.

The Preds grabbed a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into Thursday’s game, but
wound up losing a 3-2 decision to the Senators. Ottawa scored three times in
the third period to take control of the game.

Shea Weber tallied in the first period for Nashville. Olli Jokinen scored the
Preds’ other goal just 1:16 into the third period to make it a 3-2 game, but
the visitors couldn’t notch the equalizer.

Carter Hutton gave No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne a rare night off and allowed
all three goals on just 19 shots.

“You don’t play that often, you have to be better,” Hutton said. “You still
have to get wins when you play. I’m a competitive person and I want to be able
to help my team win games when I’m called upon. Tonight I didn’t get the job

Hutton fell to 0-2-1 this season, but is sporting a solid 2.32 goals against
average and a .914 save percentage. Rinne, however, is 12-3-1 with a 1.92 GAA
and .930 save percentage.

Rinne will get the start tonight and is 3-2-1 with a 2.19 GAA in five lifetime
starts versus the Panthers.

Florida will try to complete its four-game road trip in winning fashion when
it visits the Preds tonight. The Panthers are 2-1-0 on the swing, picking up
victories in Anaheim and San Jose, while losing in Los Angeles.

Although the Panthers have two wins so far on this trek, a third victory could
be hard to come by considering Florida hasn’t won in Nashville since Dec. 11,
1999. Since that 4-2 loss, the Predators are 6-0 with two ties in eight
meetings in the Music City. Nashville has claimed five of seven overall in
this series.

The Panthers rebounded from Tuesday’s 5-2 setback in L.A. with Thursday’s
shootout win over the Sharks. Nick Bjugstad scored a pair of goals in
regulation and fittingly netted the game-winner in the shootout, as Florida
downed San Jose, 3-2.

Florida surrendered the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation, as
Patrick Marleau beat Roberto Luongo with just 33.1 seconds remaining in the
third period. Earlier in the period, Luongo stopped Marleau on a penalty shot

Although the Panthers carried a power play 1:49 into overtime, they were
unable to end the contest in OT. After each team scored in the second round of
the shootout, Brent Burns rung one off the post for San Jose, and Bjugstad
followed with the difference maker.

Luongo made 28 saves for the Panthers, who swept the season series with the
Sharks. Florida also upended San Jose, 4-1, on Nov. 11.

Florida is expected to start Luongo again tonight. He is 16-13-3 with a 2.19
GAA in 33 career games (30 starts) against the Predators.

Forwards Sean Bergenheim and Scottie Upshall missed Thursday’s game with
lower-body injuries and are questionable for tonight.