Panthers Predators Hockey

Nashville Predators center Nick Cousins, right, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers in the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 26, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Juuse Saros made 39 saves, and the Nashville Predators beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 Monday night to hold onto their slim hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.

Saros improved to 13-4-1 in his last 18 starts. He has the most wins among NHL goalies since March 18 and helped the Predators stay two points ahead of Dallas by beating Florida for the first time this season in Nashville.

Nick Cousins scored the go-ahead goal in the second period. Yakov Trenin and Erik Haula each scored a goal in the third, and Mikael Granlund had a power-play goal for Nashville, which won its second straight.

Sam Bennett scored for Florida, which needed to beat Nashville in any fashion to clinch the seventh playoff berth in franchise history. The Panthers trail Carolina by two points for the top spot in the Central after being held to just one goal for for the first time since April 10 — a span of seven games where they went 5-1-1.

Florida went up 1-0 when Anthony Duclair's hot went off Bennett's left foot on a delayed penalty at 4:49 of the first for his fourth goal in five games. But Nashville answered quickly when