SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) James Reimer’s third straight start was a surprise for the goaltender.
Reimer made 28 saves, Jonathan Marchessault scored in the third period and the Florida Panthers beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Friday night.
Reimer got the start when Roberto Luongo experienced some upper-body discomfort during warmups. Luongo then left the bench during the first period and was ruled out for the game. Bobby Segin, a former UConn goalie and now an account executive for the Panthers, was the emergency goalie.
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”It’s a little tough, but at the same time you don’t have much time to get nervous,” Reimer said. ”You just get in there. I try to prepare like I’m playing every night. It’s just another game. As a team, I thought we played phenomenal.”
Luongo is day to day, according to Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe.
”That’s the great thing about having the goalies that we have. They’re both terrific,” Rowe said.
Greg McKegg also scored for the Panthers, and Jaromir Jagr got his 1,137th career assist on Marchessault’s 12th goal of the season.
The Panthers held a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the shooting earlier in the day at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
Craig Smith scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros stopped 32 shots. The Predators have lost five of their last seven games.
”They were a little bit quicker than us to start the game,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ”Our speed picked up as the game went on but they got the jump on us early on.”
Nashville was coming off a 6-1 victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
”I don’t know if it was the travel or the back-to-back games,” Predators center Ryan Johansen said. ”It took us a while to get going.”
Marchessault gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead when his odd-angle shot from along the boards just outside the right circle got past Saros with 9:53 left in the third.
”I got lucky, but it’s a big goal and it’s a big two points,” Marchessault said. ”(Luongo) going out like that, it was really weird, but (Reimer) did such a good job.”
Nashville had tied it at 1 at 5:03 when Smith took a pass from Mike Ribeiro below the right circle and put it over Reimer’s glove.
The arena was darkened during the pregame moment of silence and the airport code FLL was illuminated on the scoreboard. Florida’s Michael Matheson and Mark Pysyk wrote FLL on their skates before the game.
”I just felt like I wanted to do something to recognize the people that were affected by what happened and obviously the people that stepped in and probably saved a lot of lives,” Matheson said. ”It’s tough to see something like that happen anywhere, but especially five minutes away from where I live.”
The team decided to play the game after it was determined that the shooting was an isolated incident and the safety of fans attending the game wouldn’t be compromised, according to Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko.
The Panthers jumped in front McKegg’s goal at 2:24 of the first. The puck came off the boards to McKegg in front and he backhanded it high into the net for his second goal in two games.
NOTES: Panthers C Nick Bjugstad left early in the first period with a lower-body injury. ”We’ll know more in the morning. Don’t really know a whole lot right now,” Rowe said. … Panthers C Colton Sceviour returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury. … The Panthers recalled LW Jared McCann from Springfield of the AHL to take the place of LW Seth Griffith (concussion). … Predators LW and leading scorer James Neal missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury.