Holding a two-goal lead in Sunday’s third period, the Panthers appeared poised to take two big points in the standings with a third consecutive win.
Nashville, however, scored a pair power-play goals in the final period to force overtime then took the second point as well in a 3-2 shootout victory at BB&T Center.
“We needed two, and that’s the part that hurts,’’ defenseman Erik Gudbranson said.
“I can’t sit here and say we played well and are happy with one point. We need two. This time of the year you have to find a way to win those.’’
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead into the third after scoring twice in the second period.
Tomas Fleischmann got Florida on the board with a great play as he intercepted a loose puck in the Nashville zone and zipped a shot past backup Carter Hutton midway through the second.
“We let that second point slip away,’’ Fleischmann said. “And that’s not good.’’
Six minutes later, 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad scored Florida’s second goal by pouncing on a loose puck left by Jimmy Hayes’ attempted wraparound.
With the Predators looking like a team which played the day before — in Tennessee, no less — it appeared Florida was in complete control.
But Nashville took advantage of its two power-play chances in the third and scored twice on just four shots on goal in the entire period.
Florida general manager Dale Tallon was incensed at the officiating crew afterward as he felt his team didn’t get the calls the visitors did.
Most egregious, perhaps, was Gudbranson taking the butt-end of Mike Fisher’s stick into his lower regions at the end of the third. Yet there was no spearing call — or any type of call against the Preds.
“The officials were good, there were no issues there at all,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “We didn’t play well enough in the [third]. I thought we were real good in the first two. We weren’t bad in the third, but we gave them two scoring chances and they scored on both of them. They were grade A chances.’’
In the shootout, the Predators scored on their first two shots, but Roberto Luongo stopped the third to force an extra round.
There, Dave Bolland — one who kept Florida’s 20-round shootout against Washington alive — was stopped and Filip Forsberg scored to finish it.
“It’s disappointing for myself because I wasn’t very good in the third or in the shootout,’’ said Luongo, who stopped 23 of 25 shots but just one of four in the shootout.
“The boys deserve two points, and I couldn’t give it to them.’’
Around 2:20 p.m., in Section 116 of the BB&T Center just two rows from ice level, David Ortiz and Judy Chance tied the knot in front of family in friends.
Minutes later, their beloved Florida Panthers took the ice for warmups, the confetti Chance snuck in still covering the surrounding seats and flooring.
“This is my favorite place and all the people that I love and hold dear are right here,’’ said Chance, a Panthers’ season-ticket holder since the team’s days at Miami Arena.
“This is the perfect setting for me. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be married. ‘’
Minutes after marrying his girlfriend of 14 years, Ortiz bounded up the stairs to celebrate with a drink — of Tim Horton’s coffee, that is.
“I just got married,’’ Ortiz told those around him in line at the coffee kiosk.
“I mean, I just got married!”
Jimmy Phillips, a season-ticket holder who sits behind Chance and Ortiz, officiated the brief ceremony.
According to Chance, friends and family were all asked to adhere to the strict dress code.
“Panthers jerseys are a must,’’ Chance said. “That’s all we asked for.”
▪ NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended Sunday’s game and watched from the owner’s box.
▪ Sunday was a showdown of top rookies Forsberg and Ekblad. Forsberg took first star of the game honors after scoring the game-tying goal with 4:43 left before getting the shootout winner.
Ekblad was second star of the game after scoring his eighth goal of the season.