After suffering back-to-back losses in their previous series, the Florida Panthers answered back with consecutive wins against the Nashville Predators. Saturday’s matinee matchup started off shaky for Florida, but ended just how they wanted it.
Florida’s start to the match was as laggy as it could get. For a moment, It appeared as if rookie Gregori Denisenko was the only skater ready to roll. Through the first eight minutes, the Predators were outshooting the Panthers 10-0. Nashville was also getting it done early in the face-off circle, winning the first 10 face-offs.
The tide began to turn when Aaron Ekblad ended the first period on good terms with a late goal that brought all the momentum towards Florida’s way.
For the Panthers, center Noel Acciari was a man on a mission. Prior to Saturday’s contest, Acciari had only played four games this season and still hadn’t earned his first point of the year. He flipped the script against Nashville, earning his third career hat trick.
“It was a great feeling. I was just hoping to get one tonight,” Acciari said.
The Panthers continued to dominate and closed out a 6-2 victory to improve their road record to 8-1-1, which is the best in the NHL.
Star of the Game: C Noel Acciari (Hat Trick)
Acciari is always aggressive when on the ice, but he truly woke up and chose anger on Saturday.
“Well he scores none or he scores three,” head coach Joel Quenneville said.
The one key consistent with all three of Acciari goals is that Noel has no hard time finding the best path for his puck. Acciari’s patience was unmatched among Panthers skaters and it showed up big on Saturday.