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Predators win 5th straight, beat Panthers 4-3

January 21, 2018

Nashville Predators left wing Kevin Fiala, of Switzerland, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators are starting to see why they signed Nick Bonino as a free agent.

Bonino had his first multi-point game since joining the team this season, and the Predators beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory.

After signing with Nashville last summer, Bonino had surgery on the foot he broke while playing for Pittsburgh against the Predators during last year’s Stanley Cup Final. Since getting healthy, he’s been working his way in with the Western Conference champions.

“His game has picked up in the last few,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Probably more ice time by me, too, helps him with confidence. I thought tonight he was really strong, his head was up and he made great plays. That line to me was dynamic offensively. When he was out there, you felt like something good might happen.”

Bonino’s line produced three of Nashville’s four goals. Kevin Fiala scored twice, and Bonino had a goal and two assists. Calle Jarnkrok had three assists for the first time in his career.

P.K. Subban scored to cap a three-goal second period and Pekka Rinne made 37 saves to improve to 23-8-3 for the Predators, who matched their longest winning streak this season.

“You’ve just got to be able to win any game, especially tonight when you have a lead going in the third period, as the season goes on and into the playoffs,” Bonino said of the winning streak. “These are the games you need to win and you need to close out.”

Vincent Trocheck, Derek MacKenzie and Keith Yandle scored for Florida. Evgenii Dadonov had two assists.

The Panthers gave goalie James Reimer the night off on the second game of a back-to-back, with Florida coming off a 4-3 home win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Reimer had started 17 straight games, so Harri Sateri got his first NHL start.

“He gave us a chance to win,” coach Bob Boughner said.

The Predators had lost two straight to Florida coming into the first game between the teams this season.

Fiala gave the Predators a lead 36 seconds in. He scored on a snap shot from the slot, beating Sateri between his pads.

The Panthers took a 2-1 lead with Trocheck beating Rinne with a backhand off a rebound for a power-play goal at 11:16 of the period, and MacKenzie scored on a snap shot, putting the puck over a stretching Rinne at 16:33 off a nice pass from Colton Sceviour. Subban skated up to help Rinne on a breakaway by Dadonov at the end of the period.

Nashville took the lead in the second, starting with a goal 1:24 into the period that Florida challenged for goaltender interference. The goal by Bonino wasn’t even called a goal for a couple of confusing minutes, and the goal song even played twice. Jarnkrok had hit the puck over Sateri’s pad, Florida defenseman Mike Matheson went into the net to try to block it, and Bonino eventually was credited with getting it over the line for his seventh this season.

“The linesman apparently called it from the far blue line,” Boughner said. “I don’t know how he sees it from there because the guy on top of the net did not see the puck go in. NHL reviews, I’m told, get a different angle than we have on the bench, which is hard to believe as well.”

Fiala put the Predators ahead at 10:53 with a wrister from the slot past Sateri’s glove, with Bonino feeding him the puck from behind the net. Subban added his 10th off a slap shot that went over Sateri’s right shoulder at 3:31 for a 4-2 lead. That gave Subban 34 points, tying him with Filip Forsberg for the team lead.

Yandle pulled the Panthers to 4-3 with a slap shot from center ice that caught Rinne by surprise at 8:34 of the third. Florida pulled Sateri late, but Rinne made a pad save on a backhand from Trocheck in the slot with 1:15 left along with a flurry of other saves.

NOTES: Viktor Arvidsson returned to the lineup for the Predators after missing two games with a lower-body injury. ... Nashville has scored first in five of its last six games. The Predators are 22-2-3 when scoring first this season. They also improved to 21-2-2 when leading after two periods.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Visit the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.

Predators: Host the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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