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Kopecky scores in SO, lifts Panthers to win

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 4, 2014 at 11:05 pm •  Published: January 4, 2014
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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Peter Horachek found beating his old team very satisfying — even after the Panthers made it more difficult than it should've been.

Tomas Kopecky scored the winner in the sixth round of a shootout, and the Panthers beat the Nashville Predators 5-4 on Saturday night after wasting a two-goal lead late in the third period.

Kopecky's shot went past Marek Mazanec high on the glove side, improving Florida's record in shootouts to 5-5.

Horachek was an assistant coach at Nashville from 2003-2013 before being fired after last season. He became coach of the Panthers' AHL affiliate in San Antonio before taking over the Panthers as interim coach after Kevin Dineen was fired on Nov. 8.

"It wasn't pretty, but it felt pretty good. You wanted to win against your former team," Horachek said. "We hung in there and we hung in there, even giving up the two goals, let them tie it up. The guys stayed on point and we eventually got the other point."

Jonathan Huberdeau scored the first goal in the shootout for Florida. Kopecky also scored in regulation and Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes also scored for the Panthers. Tim Thomas made 38 saves in his second start after missing eight games due to a groin injury.

Florida won for just the second time in six games.

Thomas stopped five shots in the shootout after his team blew a two-goal lead.

"You never want to go that route, but if you're there, you might as well get the two points," Thomas said.

David Legwand scored in the shootout for Nashville. Paul Gaustad, Seth Jones, Mike Fisher and Craig Smith scored in regulation. Mazanec stopped 25 shots.

Nashville is 0-4 in shootouts this season and 0-17-2 when trailing after two periods. Their last shootout win was on Feb. 2, 2013, at San Jose.

The Predators scored twice in the last 5:08 to send the game into overtime.

Gaustad tied the game at 4 with 47.1 seconds left when he swept in a puck drifting through the crease behind Thomas. Nashville closed within one on Jones' goal with 5:08 left. His wrist shot from the high slot went past Thomas for his first goal in 20 games.

"If you're down by one goal it doesn't give you any points. You've got to go for it and tonight we were fortunate enough to get that," Gaustad said.

The Predators appeared to be in control in overtimes but couldn't convert.

"I didn't like the goals we gave up. They were too easy," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "But talk about a character way to come back, there was great character on the bench, there was great push, we got that tied up and I thought we played pretty well in the overtime."

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