Panthers rally past Predators, clinch playoff berth


NASHVILLE — Jonathan Huberdeau had two goals and three assists, and the Florida Panthers rallied to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a 7-4 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

Aleksander Barkov had two goals and an assist, and Sam Bennett had three assists for the Panthers (32-14-5), who are 6-2-1 in their past nine games. Spencer Knight made nine saves to earn his second NHL win after replacing Sergei Bobrovsky (four goals on 21 shots) at the start of the third period.

Juuse Saros made 49 saves, and Ryan Ellis scored twice for the Predators (27-22-2), who split the two-game set following a 4-1 win here Monday.

Owen Tippett tied it 4-4 at 4:57 of the third period when he knocked in a loose puck following a scramble at the top of the crease. 

Frank Vatrano gave Florida a 5-4 lead at 7:15 with a wrist shot from the left face-off dot, and Huberdeau made it 6-4 at 13:48 with a power-play goal off a backhand, cross-slot pass from Barkov.

Huberdeau was then awarded his second goal of the game to push the lead to 7-4 at 18:23 when he was tripped by Ellis in the offensive zone with the Predators net empty.

Ellis gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at 6:07 of the first period on a slap shot from the point.

Barkov tied it 1-1 at 8:28 of the first with a wrist shot short side on the power play.

Anthony Duclair scored another power-play goal for the Panthers to make it 2-1 at 2:56 of the second period, but Luke Kunin tied it 2-2 at 6:50 on a rebound of Calle Jarnkrok‘s initial shot.

Tanner Jeannot gave the Predators a 3-2 lead at 12:40 of the second after Bobrovsky gave up another rebound in the slot.

Barkov tied it 3-3 at 17:32 when his centering pass redirected five-hole off the stick of Predators defenseman Roman Josi.

Ellis scored his second with a one-timer from the right circle to make it 4-3 at 19:37 of the second.

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