SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) – The Florida Panthers seem to have finally gotten out of their recent funk but they’ll have to beat a very good team on Sunday to keep things rolling.READ MORE: Condo Collapse: Three Bodies Pulled From Rubble Overnight, Crews Continue Search For Survivors
The Nashville Predators’ home dominance is being put on hold for now and that may also be the case for Colin Wilson’s career season.
Brandon Pirri is enjoying his own impressive stretch for the Panthers.
While Wilson’s status is uncertain, the Predators will try to continue their success against the Panthers, who try to match their longest win streak of the season Sunday.
Nashville (34-12-6) leads the Central Division by two points over St. Louis and trails Anaheim by one in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Predators’ league-leading 21-3-1 home record is a big reason why they’re among the NHL’s elite this season. They made it three wins in four games Saturday, getting a late goal from Mike Ribeiro in a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
This visit to Florida (23-17-10) will be the only road contest in an eight-game span for Nashville, which could be without Wilson after he left Saturday with an upper-body injury.
The center is among the league leaders with a plus-23 rating and has a career-high 17 goals to tie him with rookie Filip Forsberg and James Neal for the team lead. Wilson also has a personal-best 36 points.
He has one point in each of the past three meetings with the Panthers, scoring a goal before Forsberg’s decisive shootout tally secured a 3-2 home win Nov. 22.
The Predators are 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings with Florida.
Ribeiro’s goal was his 11th of the season and just his second in 22 games.READ MORE: Condo Collapse: Families Anxiously Await Word On Loved Ones
“Sometimes they laugh at me because I don’t shoot hard enough,” said Ribeiro, who leads the Predators with 33 assists and has 700 career points. “I always thought if someone has a better shot than me, then I should give it to them. It was the right timing for me to shoot, and it went in.”
Pirri is having that happen regularly, scoring six of his nine goals over the past seven games. He’s trying to become the first Panther with goals in five consecutive games since Olli Jokinen did it from Feb. 2-10, 2008.
Pirri’s streak continued Thursday as he capped Florida’s rally with 3:05 left in regulation in a 3-2 win over Los Angeles.
“You don’t get too many goals in a row like this. I’m just trying to shoot everything because they’re going in,” said Pirri, who is in his first full NHL season. “Things are going good right now. You just try to ride that as long as possible.”
The Panthers have won two straight after going 1-6-1 following a season-high three-game winning streak.
Nick Bjugstad has three points in two games after scoring his team-leading 17th goal Thursday. The center, who is also Florida’s leader with 32 points, had one goal in the 12 prior games.
Roberto Luongo made a season-high 48 saves in the shootout loss to Nashville in November and figures to get the nod again after his 29-save effort Thursday.
He’s 4-1-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in his last six starts against the Predators.
It’s unclear if Nashville will counter with Pekka Rinne after he had 30 saves Saturday in just his second game back from a knee injury. He’s only started once on back-to-back days, so Carter Hutton may start and he’s 3-0-2 with a 2.31 GAA in his last five games.
Rinne, though, has a 1.95 GAA while winning three straight versus Florida.MORE NEWS: President Biden Declares State Of Emergency In Florida After Surfside Condo Collapse
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