Panthers blow late lead, lose in SO to Predators

The Florida Panthers’ playoff chances were dealt another blow this afternoon as they coughed up a third period lead en route to a 3-2 shootout loss against Nashville.

Florida had a 2-0 edge through 40 minutes and outshot the Predators 15-4 in the third frame. What ultimately sank the Panthers was a hooking penalty from Derek MacKenzie and a slashing call against Tomas Kopecky. Nashville isn’t known for its strong power play, but Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg capitalized on those opportunities.

That was Forsberg’s 18th goal of the season. The Calder Trophy frontrunner now leads all rookies with 48 points in 53 games. He came up big again in the shootout by scoring the deciding goal in the fourth round.

With that, Nashville has now won four of its last five games to improve to 35-12-6 this season. If Anaheim loses against Tampa Bay today, then the Predators will have the best record in the NHL.

By contrast the Panthers have been struggling lately with just three wins over their last 11 games. They’re six points shy of a playoff spot and will be further behind than that if Boston beats Montreal tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

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