NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -J.P. Dumont found the perfect way to make up for his giveaway that led to a Florida goal late in the second period.
Dumont and David Legwand scored early in the third period, and Dan Ellis made 23 saves to help the Nashville Predators beat the Panthers 4-1 on Saturday night.
Dan Hamhuis and Joel Ward also scored for Nashville, coming off a 3-1 home loss to St. Louis on Friday night that snapped their winning streak at seven games.
Jordan Leopold scored for the Panthers. Florida has lost four in a row.
``Third periods have been our Achilles' heel this year,' Leopold said. ``We weren't sharp in the third period, it is as simple as that.'
Dumont made it 2-1 68 seconds into the third period, scoring off a rebound. With goalie Scott Clemmensen down, Dumont kicked the rebound onto his backhand before lifting the puck high to the stick side for his fifth goal of the season.
``I knew I had time when I got the rebound,' Dumont said. ``I knew he was coming across and covering the bottom part of the net, and I just had to take my time. I had the top of the net wide open.'
Just over 4 minutes later, Legwand gave Nashville a 3-1 lead.
Nashville's Jordin Tootoo sent a long pass from the neutral zone that Legwand was able to corral after fending off defenseman Bryan Allen. Legwand was then able to beat Clemmensen with a backhander between the pads.
``We had a really good second period, then we shot ourselves in the foot,' Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. ``We just can't afford to make mistakes like we made in the third period, it costs us games.'
Hamhuis opened the scoring late in the opening period when his slap shot from the left point deflected off of Panthers center Kamil Kreps and past Clemmensen. The goal was Hamhuis' first of the season, and first since Feb. 12, a span of 47 games.
``I guess I can't lie, it's been on my mind,' Hamhuis said. ``Finally, tonight one got through and went in.'
The Panthers tied it at 15:14 of the second period on Leopold's third goal of the season. An errant pass inside the Florida zone by Dumont sent the Panthers the other way on a 2-on-1. Leopold beat Dan Ellis high to the stick side with a slap shot.
``That turnover there was a busted up play, and they ended up scoring, giving them some momentum,' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ``It was good that one of our leadership group stepped up and was able to get that goal back.'
Ellis made his first appearance since Nov. 10, finally giving starter Pekka Rinne a night off after he played Nashville's last eight games, winning seven of them.
``To get the win tonight was important for myself after sitting that long,' Ellis said. ``Our 'D' played outstanding tonight.'
Ward capped the scoring with an empty-net goal.
NOTES: Nashville RW Martin Erat played in his 500th career NHL game, all with the Predators. ... Tootoo has assists in Nashville's last four games, a career high. ... Legwand has a five-game points streak, matching his career high. ... Florida LW Kenndal McArdle left the game in the second period with a right arm injury immediately following his second fight of the game with Tootoo.
The Associated Press News Service
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