SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers beat the Nashville Predators on Thursday night instead of themselves.
Rostislav Olesz and David Booth scored 2:14 apart late in the third period as Florida rallied for a 3-2 victory over Nashville that ended the Predators’ win streak at six games.
The Panthers had lost four times in their previous 10 games after having the lead.
“It’s nice for someone else to blow a lead for a change instead of us,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. “It was a character win.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a comeback win like that. It’s nice. I think it builds confidence.”
Olesz, who hadn’t scored in 20 games and had only one point in seven contests since returning from a broken finger, set up Booth’s winner with 4:12 left.
“It’s good. The guys, they carried me. Now, I help them, too,” Olesz said. “It’s a team effort and we won the game.”
Radek Dvorak also scored, and Scott Clemmensen made 27 saves for Florida, which has won two in a row following a three-game losing streak.
David Legwand had a goal and an assist for Nashville, and Colin Wilson also scored. Pekka Rinne, who came into the game second in the NHL in goals-against average and third in save percentage, stopped 31 shots.
“I think we did it to ourselves,” Rinne said. “We gave the game away.
“Leading 2-1 and then some not great decisions, that cost us.”
The Predators had allowed only seven goals during their win streak.
Their focus now will be on avoiding their season-long trend of long streaks.
After opening the season with eight games without a loss in regulation, Nashville dropped its next five. Before their six-game winning streak, the Predators had lost five in a row, and that was preceded by a five-game winning streak.
“When we have a lot of desperation, a lot of detail and a lot of urgency in our game, we’ll play and win a lot of hockey games,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “When our urgency level comes down, our desperation comes down, then we lose hockey games.
“We have to learn from the last two long winning streaks when we had long losing streaks after.”
Booth beat Rinne with 4:12 left in regulation with a wrist shot low to the glove side after taking a drop pass from Olesz. It was his third goal in four games.
Olesz tied it at 13:34 with his first goal since Oct. 16. Olesz scored off a rebound with a couple of Nashville defenders surrounding Rinne in the crease.
“We’re not a team that can make five passes all the way up the ice and is not going to wow anyone with our skills, so we have to score those dirty goals and get to the net,” DeBoer said. “We did that in the third period. I give Nashville credit, they make you earn your goals.
“You’re not going to get anything free against them.”
Legwand broke a 1-1 tie at 10:02 of the third when he scored for the third consecutive game. He beat Clemmensen with a wrist shot to the stick side from the wing.
“It’s a big character win for us, especially after having given the lead there in the third that we’ve been doing a little bit lately,” Clemmensen said. “It was a bad goal on my part, but the way the guys responded to get the equalizing goal and then go-ahead goal was great.
“This is the type of game that hopefully you can build on.”
Dvorak opened the scoring at 3:22 of the first off a 2-on-1 break. He scored off Marty Reasoner’s pass after Cory Stillman began the play by stealing the puck just outside the Nashville blue-line.
It was Dvorak’s first goal in seven games since coming back after missing nine games because of a shoulder injury.
Wilson tied it at 10:50 of the first when converted a pass from behind the net from Legwand. Clemmensen stopped Legwand’s wrist shot, but couldn’t freeze the puck as it rested near him and Legwand knocked it loose and into the net.
“I didn’t think we played particularly well,” Trotz said. “We were mismanaging the puck all night and turning it over.
“It was a matter of time. Bottom line, we turned the puck over too much and they had a little more desperation in their game than we did.”
NOTES: Nashville lost in regulation against a Southeast Division for the first time in seven games (4-1-2). … Nashville D Shea Weber assisted on Legwand’s goal to extend his career-high points streak to seven games. … Florida F Chris Higgins missed his third consecutive game because of a lower-body injury. … This was the first time in six games the Florida allowed fewer than three goals.