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Erat shines as Predators win in shootout

By Jim Diamond

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Martin Erat scored his sixth

goal of the season to forge a tie midway through the third

period and netted the lone tally of the shootout as the

Nashville Predators recorded a 3-2 victory over the Florida

Panthers on Saturday.

Pekka Rinne turned aside attempts by Nathan Horton and Cory

Stillman in the bonus format before Rostislav Olesz misfired on

his opportunity as the Predators rolled to their third win in

four games.

"I thought Pekka was really, really good tonight," Nashville

coach Barry Trotz said. "When it was 2-1, he made a couple of

great saves that if they had scored on, I'm pretty sure we'd be

sitting here now singing a different tune."

Defenseman Shea Weber scored a power-play goal in the first

period and Rinne made 24 saves for Nashville.

Olesz and defenseman Karlis Skrastins tallied in regulation for

Florida, which has dropped three straight.

After a scoreless first round of the shootout, Rinne stopped a

backhander by Stillman on the Panthers' second attempt. Erat

then beat goaltender Craig Anderson with a wrist shot, and Olesz

backhanded the puck over the net on Florida's last chance,

sealing the win for the Predators.

"Even though it was my first shootout, I tried to stay patient,"

Rinne said. "I got lucky at the end there, when (Olesz) shot it


After being denied in his first shootout of the season during a

4-3 loss on Tuesday at Washington, Erat was glad to get another


"I felt bad after we lost the game in Washington, and I tried to

prepare for another shootout," he said. "I've been practicing

that move, and it worked tonight."

His shot that made it just inside the left goalpost also baffled


"I read the play and followed him pretty well," Anderson said.

"It just squeaked by."

From behind the net, J.P. Dumont slid a pass to Weber, who beat

Anderson high to the stick side with a wrist shot with 3:31 left

in the first period for his fifth goal of the season and a 1-0


Dumont continued his impressive campaign, notching his

team-leading 14th point with the assist. He has recorded a

point in all but one of Nashville's games this season.

"(Dumont) is a world-class player," Weber said. "He can make

plays in tight spots, and that was just another one of his great


Florida tied the game 57 seconds later, when defenseman Keith

Ballard sent a pass to Olesz, who fooled Rinne on a partial


"It was a nice pass," Olesz said. "I was able to get behind

their defense, and then it was just me and their goalie."

Making his second consecutive start for Nashville as Dan Ellis

continues to nurse a sore back, Rinne was solved again with 8:45

left in the second as Skrastins beat him with a wrister for his

100th career point and a 2-1 edge.

A former Predator, Skrastins collected 54 points in 307 games

with the team between 1999-2003.

Erat pulled Nashville even at 9:51 of the third, burying a

rebound while on the doorstep after David Legwand's initial

attempt was stopped by Anderson.

"(Legwand) made a nice play getting the puck out of the air and

the shot on the goal," Erat said. "I just went for the rebound

and it went in."

Beginning a five-game road trip, Florida fell in its first

shootout of the season.

"We gave them a chance to hang around, and then they got that

goal in the third," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "I was

pretty impressed with their goalie tonight."


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