The Panthers certainly weren’t proud of the performance they put out on Thursday night, a game in which they gave up six goals early on and the result was decided way before the arena folks got around to the Kiss Cam.
So, one would have expected a more rousing effort from the Panthers on Saturday afternoon.
Who would have figured this, though?
Thanks to goals from six players, Florida rolled past the Nashville Predators 7-4 before taking to the Music City streets for a night of music, food and fun.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It was a well-deserved night off.
Florida, which doesn’t play again until visiting Pete DeBoer’s San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night, has won four of its past five games.
“It was a bounce-back game,” said Vincent Trocheck, who recorded the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” by notching a goal (he actually scored twice), an assist and getting into a fight.
“We didn’t play very well against Los Angeles, so we knew we needed to bounce back. … We played the full 60 minutes, didn’t let up at any point. We stepped on the gas in the second [period], and that was big for us.”
The Panthers never trailed Saturday as Jaromir Jagr got Florida going in the first period by getting a piece of a Keith Yandle shot to make it 1-0.
In the second, Jussi Jokinen broke a 1-1 tie with his second goal in as many games.
Nashville tied the Panthers twice, but 28 seconds after Viktor Arvidsson got his first of three goals to make it 2-2, Florida regained the lead on a slick backhand from a hard-charging Nick Bjugstad.
The Preds never got that close again.
Florida scored twice in a span of 29 seconds to take a 4-2 lead and chase Pekka Rinne from the net.
The Panthers’ fourth goal came when Trocheck picked off a pass at center ice and went one-on-one with Rinne.
The Panthers, who have four games left on this trip, went into the third period up 5-3 as Arvidsson’s second goal of the day canceled out Sasha Barkov’s goal midway through the period.
Jonathan Huberdeau, playing in his third game since returning early from a severed Achilles tendon, scored his second goal of the season in the third to make it a three-goal lead again.
“After the way we played Thursday, this felt pretty good,” Huberdeau said.
“This was a pretty good way to start things. We got the early goal, and we played well. There were a lot of goals scored, but we’re proud of the way we played.”
Trocheck scored the PAT goal into an empty net with 38 seconds left to give Florida seven, the most goals scored by the Panthers this season.
“It was real good, guys competed real hard,” Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe said. “I thought to a guy, we really paid attention to the defensive side of the game first so when we got the puck, we went on offense. It was a real good team effort.”
Nashville got its first goal at 9:19 of the first when Romas Josi took a long shot off a faceoff win during a power-play chance with Mike Matheson in the box for holding.
Although Josi’s knuckleball shot appeared to be headed right toward Roberto Luongo’s glove, Jason Demers instinctively tried to block the shot and deflected it past his goalie.
Nashville’s second goal also hit Yandle before Luongo had a chance to make a play on it.
“Obviously, it wasn’t intentional, [Demers] was trying to knock it out of there,” said Luongo, who had been 1-4-1 in his previous six starts before Saturday.
“It was an easy play, no one in front. But it’s one of those things that happen and unfortunately they’re happening a little too much right now.
“You feel like the breaks aren’t going your way sometimes, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
UP NEXT FOR THE PANTHERS
▪ Wednesday: At San Jose, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
▪ Friday: At Anaheim, 10 p.m. (FSFL)
▪ Saturday: At Los Angeles, 10 p.m. (FSFL)