Inconsistency Plagues Preds In 7-4 Loss To Panthers

Posted at 9:15 PM, Feb 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-11 22:15:40-05

In a rare Saturday matinee, the Predators came out sluggish and the Panthers made them pay in a 7-4 loss that puts them right back on the playoff bubble.

The ageless Jaromir Jagr had no problems getting ready for the afternoon start. The 45-year-old future Hall of Famer put Florida up 1-0 just over 4:00 into the game. Florida then scored four goals in a 4:01 stretch during the second period to take control of the game.

"It was gross," a visibly angry Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. "We didn't play with any purpose. There was no passion, no effort. The actions that we gave deserved the result we got."

The disastrous stretch started when Pontus Aberg was booked for slashing, one of seven penalties called on Nashville in the period, and Jussi Jokinen cashed in on the Power Play less than 90 seconds later. The Preds briefly responded when Viktor Arvidsson, who recorded his first career hat trick, redirected a Ryan Ellis shot into the net to tie the game 2-2, but Florida took control with a pair of tallies in the next 57 seconds.

The Predators then pulled goaltender Pekka Rinne, who allowed four goals on 16 shots, but backup Juuse Saros didn't fare much better. Just over a minute later, Aleksander Barkov beat Saros to give the Panthers a 5-2 lead.

"We didn't have a good start and ended up chasing the game," Captain Mike Fisher said. "We've got to be better."

The Predators managed just six shots in the game's first 25:00 and spent 26:00 in the penalty box as the result of 10 penalties. The lackluster effort handed the Preds their second straight loss and dropped them to eighth in the Western Conference, just a point ahead of the Flames for a Wild Card spot.

"I want them to wrestle with this when they go home tonight," Laviolette said. "They need to think about tomorrow and what we need to do better."

The good news is Nashville won't have to wait long for a chance to get back on track. The Preds welcome the division rival Stars to Bridgestone Arena Sunday at 5pm.

But there is real concern about the inconsistency that continues to plague this Predators team now 55 games into the season. We keep waiting for them to turn it on and be the team that many predicted to win the Central Division at the start of the season. There have been fleeting moments of that type of play this season, but never a prolonged stretch. After recording points in nine of 11 games, the Preds have now lost three of four.

And in a critical game back at home after a road loss, they just didn't show up Saturday with the exception of Arvidsson, who now leads the team with 18 goals to match his team lead in hustle. If his teammates could all match his effort game in and game out, inconsistency would not be this team's problem.

Instead, this is a team that boasts wins over the Penguins, Blackhawks and Wild, but also has losses to teams like the Coyotes, Red Wings and Devils. A frustrating rollercoaster ride of up and downs that will have the Preds fighting for their playoff lives over the final third of the season.

The talent is there on paper. The Predators have solid goaltending, offensive depth and defensive stars. But until they find consistency in their effort and in their play, the frustrations will continue.