Driedger, Stralman lead Panthers past Predators

Chris Driedger earned a shutout in his first NHL start, and defenseman Anton Stralman scored twice, leading the host Florida Panthers to a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

Center Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers, who snapped a three-game losing streak. The win marked a successful start to Florida's nine-game homestand.

Driedger made 27 saves in his fourth NHL appearance and his first since Oct. 28, 2016.

The 25-year-old Driedger -- the Ottawa Senators' third-round pick in 2012 -- earned this opportunity because of his stellar statistics in the American Hockey League this season -- a 2.09 goals-against average and a. 938 save percentage.

Stralman's goals were his first with the Panthers. The defenseman, who signed as a free agent in July, hadn't scored since Dec. 29, 2018, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After notching his second tally on Saturday, it became the fourth two-goal game of Stralman's career.

Juuse Saros made 24 saves for a tired Nashville team that played at the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. Florida had rested since Wednesday night.

Florida opened the scoring with 66 seconds elapsed in the second period. Panthers forward Noel Acciari, operating behind Nashville's net, centered the puck to Colton Sceviour, whose shot from the slot produced a long rebound. Stralman swooped in from the right circle and fired for his first goal in more than 11 months.

Later in the second period, Nashville had a 5-on-3 advantage for 33 seconds, but the Predators could not score during either part of their power play.

Florida extended its lead to 2-0 with 11:22 left in the third. The Panthers kept the puck in Nashville's end for 31 seconds before Stralman scored between Saros' pads. Vincent Trocheck made the key play, stealing the puck from Saros behind the net and then feeding Stralman on the doorstep.

Barkov then roofed a shot from in close, giving Florida a 3-0 lead with 8:51 left in the third. Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle started the sequence by keeping the puck in the zone and firing it deep. Evgenii Dadonov retrieved the puck and dished to Barkov for the goal.

--Field Level Media