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Martin Erat scores lone goal of shootout in Preds' 3-2 win over Panthers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Martin Erat has come of age with the Nashville Predators.

Selected in the seventh round in the 1999 draft, Erat has developed into a top scorer. He netted his sixth goal of the season against the Florida Panthers to tie the game and then had the only goal in the shootout in a 3-2 win Saturday night.

Erat, disappointed that the Predators lost a shootout Tuesday night at Washington, spent a couple of days thinking of ways to be better in the tiebreaker. He shot second for Nashville and beat Craig Anderson inside the left post for the winner.

"Marty is a very creative guy," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He always has a lot of ideas, and sometimes in a shootout he gets a lot of those ideas going.

"He has two or three key moves. When he does them I don't think that have a chance of stopping him. He really focused and realized we needed those two points."

Erat's six goals lead the Predators.

"I'm just trying to do the same things all of the time," Erat said. "Right now, everything is working. But it's a long season. There are going to be bumps in the road."

Trotz has called upon a number of players to step forward and take their games to a higher level. Erat has responded.

"Marty has a little more ownership," Trotz said. "He has emerged into a leader. That was mandated by us for Marty this year.

"Anytime he has the chance to shoot in those prime scoring areas we want him to shoot. Sometimes he will double clutch and try to make a play, but he is best when he is shooting the puck and keeping it simple."

Shea Weber also scored for the Predators in regulation.

Rostislav Olesz and Karlis Skrastins netted Florida's goals.

Weber gave the Predators a brief 1-0 lead when he skated in from the left point and beat Anderson to the stick side at 16:29 on the power play.

"I'm just happy that we got the win," Weber said. "It was a tough game for us and we battled back and got the win."

Florida tied it at 17:32 when Olesz skated in on a short breakaway and beat goalie Pekka Rinne low to the stick side.

"It was a nice pass from our defence," Olesz said. "I was able to get behind Nashville's defence. Then it was me and their goalie and I scored."

Skrastins gave Florida a 2-1 lead at 11:15 of the second period when his one-timer from the middle of the slot went over Rinne's left shoulder.

The Predators were held scoreless in the second period on nine shots.

At 9:51 of the third period, Anderson blocked a shot by David Legwand. Erat skated in and put in the rebound to tie it 2-2.

Rinne turned back all 10 shots in the third period.

The Predators spent two minutes on the power play in overtime, but were not able to beat Anderson. The Predators outshot Florida 3-2 in overtime.

"We went out and played a good road game against a good team," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought it was back and forth. We gave them a chance to hang around. Then they got the goal in the third.

"We had some good chances at the end of the second to put them away when we were up 2-1. Their goaltender made a couple of real good saves."

Rinne made his third start and has won back-to-back games.

"Once you get a couple of games under you it gets easier," Rinne said. "You get used to the pace and the skill level of an NHL player."

This was Rinne's first NHL shootout.

"It is the same thing in the NHL as it is in the American Hockey League," Rinne said. "It's just a higher stage."

Notes: Ryan Suter has assists in four straight games for the Predators. ... Florida's Nathan Horton played in his 300th career NHL game, and Olesz played in his 200th. ... Florida began a five-game road trip. ... The Predators will play their next six on the road. ... It was the first shootout of the season for the Panthers and the third for the Predators, who are 2-1.


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