Brandon Pirri
Panthers-Predators Preview
Brandon Pirri

Panthers-Predators Preview

Published Dec. 2, 2015 4:40 p.m. ET

The Florida Panthers will seek their first four-game win streak in two seasons in a difficult place for them.

The Panthers are winless in their last nine road games against the Nashville Predators heading into Thursday night's contest.

Florida (11-9-4) won its third straight Tuesday, 3-1 at St. Louis. Brandon Pirri and Derek MacKenzie scored 13 seconds apart to open the scoring in the second period, MacKenzie added another and Roberto Luongo made 29 saves.

''It was a great win for us,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. ''We battled hard against a real good hockey team over there. We got some breaks and MacKenzie came up big for us tonight. And obviously Luongo played really good in the net. So we had a good team effort again tonight.''


The Panthers haven't won four straight since a five-game run Dec. 10-19, 2013.

Florida's drought in Nashville dates to a 4-2 victory Dec. 11, 1999. The Panthers have lost five times in regulation, twice in shootouts and tied twice in their nine visits since.

The Panthers are 0 for 31 on the power play in their last 11 games against the Predators. They own the league's second-worst power play on the road at 8.3 percent.

Nashville (13-7-4) won for the second time in seven games with Tuesday's 5-2 victory over Arizona. Filip Forsberg had two goals and an assist, scoring twice in a third period in which the Predators outscored the Coyotes 4-0.

Forsberg has three goals in his last three games after a 17-game drought.

"It's kind of part of my job to score goals for the team," Forsberg said. "Obviously it's been frustrating, especially when we haven't been winning."

Both teams could be missing key players.

Nashville lost center Mike Fisher in Tuesday's game and Colin Wilson sat out due to lower-body injuries. They have combined for 15 points.

Florida center Nick Bjugstad missed his first game after suffering an upper-body injury during Monday's practice. Bjugstad is tied for second on the team with seven goals.

''He's pretty irreplaceable,'' MacKenzie said. ''I thought Bollie (Dave Bolland) came in and did a good job for us tonight. Bjugs was certainly missed, especially against big teams like this. He's a big horse for us and hopefully we'll see him back soon.''

Fisher, who was placed on injured reserve and will miss four games, and Bjugstad win more than half of their face-offs for clubs that are below 50 percent.

Luongo figures to start after yielding four goals in this win streak, which includes two goals from Pirri and three points from Jussi Jokinen.

"Guys have had more jump in the last few games, been more aggressive on their plays and we've created more chances like that," Luongo said. "Guys are working hard on both ends of the ice, which is a big difference for our team right now. "

Pekka Rinne figures to start for the Predators after he made 13 saves Tuesday to end an 0-3-1 stretch in which he posted a 3.26 goals-against average. Rinne has a 2.22 GAA in winning all three home starts against Florida.


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