Preds aim to continue mastery of Panthers

( - The Nashville Predators hope to continue their success against the Florida Panthers when the teams battle Saturday at the BB&T Center in South Florida.

The Predators have lost six of their last eight games, but they seem to have a favorable matchup on Saturday. Nashville has won two straight, five of six and seven of the last nine meetings against the Panthers overall and the Preds have claimed two of three on the road in this series.

Nashville has earned a point in three straight games, going 2-0 on a two-game homestand before losing in overtime Thursday at Boston to begin a three-game road trip. Brad Marchand netted the game-winner 54 seconds into overtime on Thursday to give the Bruins the extra point in a close battle at TD Garden.

Less than a minute into the extra session, Marchand picked up the puck at the left point and stepped around a defender before throwing a low shot on net that snuck through a screen and found the back of the cage to give Boston the 3-2 victory.

Shea Weber recorded a goal and an assist and the defenseman tied the game at 2-2 with 5:25 left in the third period. It was the 10th goal of the season for Weber, tying him with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for the league lead among defensemen.

Viktor Stalberg scored once for the Predators, while Marek Mazanec allowed all three goals on 25 shots in defeat.

"I thought we played a solid road game and did some real good things," said Nashville's Mike Fisher, who finished with two assists. "You want the two (points) always, but we build on it."

Nashville is 8-10-2 as the guest this season and will complete its road trip Sunday at Carolina.

The Panthers last played on Tuesday when they dropped a 2-1 shootout decision against the visiting New York Rangers. It was the fourth setback in five games for Florida and the loss dropped the Panthers to 1-2-1 on a five-game homestand that wraps up tonight.

Dan Girardi scored the tying goal late in regulation for the Rangers on New Year's Eve and Brad Richards won it with the lone goal in the shootout.

Tim Thomas, who participated in his 400th career contest, stopped 29 shots for the Panthers, while Brad Boyes recorded the lone score for the hosts.

"I thought we were going to hang on until the end there, but that's hockey," said Thomas. "We're picking up some momentum and doing some good things. We're a much better hockey team than we were in October."

The Panthers, who are 8-9-4 as the host this season, will begin a three-game road trip when it visits Montreal on Monday.

Florida expects to have Ed Jovanovski in the lineup tonight for the first time since March, as the veteran defenseman is set to return from hip surgery. The 37- year-old Jovanovski, who had surgery in April, only played in six games last season and hasn't seen action since March 16.

Panthers forward Scottie Upshall also expects to be back tonight after sitting out the last three games with an upper-body injury.