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Nashville Predators Visit Florida Panthers: Game 64 Preview

Florida downed Pekka Rinne and the Predators the last time the two met in Florida. Now, a completely new team greets Nashville. Can Florida start a new winning streak after the embarrassment on Thursday?

Florida is hosting the Nashville Predators tonight at the Bank Atlantic Centre in Sunrise, Florida. This will be the only meeting this season between the infrequent opponents.

The Predators have a 16-13-2 road record, while Florida is 15-8-8 at home. This will be the first game of a quick back-to-back two game homestand. They finish up tomorrow against the Ottawa Senators before a four day break. They go back on the road to face the Philadelphia Flyers and thePittsburgh Penguins.

Nashville is finishing up a two game roadtrip. They lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3 on Tuesday night. After tonight, they return home for a three game stand against the Los Angeles Kings, theColorado Avalanche, and the Detroit Red Wings.

The last time the Predators faced the Panthers was January 13th, 2011. Radek Dvorak opened the scoring with this sixth goal of the season just three minutes into the game. The Panthers offense was quiet after that as Colin Wilson scored his 11th of the year midway through the first and David Legwand gave Nashville the lead with this fifth of the season midway through the third. Florida would answer, first when Rostislav Olesz scored his third of the year with six minutes left in regulation and two minutes later, as David Booth scored the game winner on his 13th marker of the season. Scott Clemmensen collected the win by stopping 27 of 29 shots, while Pekka Rinne allowed all three goals on 34 shots for the loss. Panthers coach Peter Deboer talked about the comeback afterwards,

"It's nice for someone else to blow a lead for a change instead of us," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "It was a character win. It's been a while since we've had a comeback win like that. It's nice. I think it builds confidence."

Predators vs Panthers 1/13/11 (via NHLVideo)

Most recently, Florida was mauled, 7-0 in a Thursday visit to Winnipeg against the Jets. Evander Kane (25, 26) scored twice, and Jim Slater (9), Kyle Wellwood (14), Bryan Little (19), Nik Antropov(10), and Blake Wheeler (14) all tallied markers for the Jets. 13 Winnipeg players figured into the scoresheet, while goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped all 33 Florida shots to earn the 10th shutout of his career and fourth of the season. Jose Theodore took the loss, allowing four goals on 24 shots. Scott Clemmensen fared even worse in relief, stopping only five of eight shots. Kevin Dineen spoke about the Panthers lack of effort later,

"We had lots of turnovers and they ended up in our net. You can't play that kind of hockey in October, and you certainly can't play it in March. It's definitely a man's game this time of year, and we did not look prepared. I think we understood that they were going to come hard. They're a desperate team, [chasing the] playoffs, and they were going to push hard. I don't think we responded well to that pressure."

Florida Panthers vs. Winnipeg Jets Mar. 1 2012 (via TheNHLVideoCenter)

The Preds are coming off a 4-3 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Craig Smith (12), Colin Wilson (15), and Gabriel Bourque (4) scored in the Nashville loss, while Jamie McBain (7), Eric Staal (19), Tim Brent (9), and ex-Panther Bryan Allen (1) scored for Carolina. Anders Lindback allowed all four goals on 33 shots in taking the loss for Nashville, while Cam Ward stopped 26 of 29 shots for the Carolina win. Allen, not used to lighting the lamp, actually fell down while celebrating the goal,

"I thought I was going to get away without talking about that," he said. "I got a little caught up in the moment I guess. At least I didn't go down, right?"

Predators @ Hurricanes 02/28/12 (via NHLVideo)

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Standings:

Florida Panthers: 30-21-12, 72 points, first Southeast Division, third Eastern Conference, 15th NHL, on pace for 94 points. Last five: O-W-W-W-L, Playoff chances: 82.2%

Nashville Predators: 37-20-7, 81 points, third Central Division, fifth Western Conference, fifth NHL, on pace for 104 points. Last five: W-O-W-W-L Playoff chances: 99.7%

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.