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Pens power past Preds

The Pittsburgh Penguins block shots and ride Sidney Crosby's three assists and Matt Niskanen's two goals to a 3-1 win over Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators.

Mike Strasinger-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of Rocky III, the title character is taking the biggest and best shots that his opponent, Mr. T, can give him. And how does Rocky Balboa respond? He asks for more. Tanner Glass got his chance to do his Italian Stallion impression, with none other than the hardest shot in the West, Shea Weber, in the Mr. T role during a penalty kill in the first period.

Brooks Orpik had broken his stick, and as is his duty as a forward, Glass passed his own stick back to the defenseman. Then Glass skated out to the point and ate three Weber shots at point blank range.

"We had three guys standing up on the bench," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "At that point, it looked like Tanner was begging for Shea to shoot another one."

Glass wouldn't go that far, but knew it was his job to do, "we've talked a lot about the type of team we want to be and the type of efforts we need to have," he said after the game. "It's something where you see a guy do something like that and it can really spark our club. I'm happy to do it."

From there, the Pittsburgh Penguins were on their way. Matt Niskanen continued his excellent season when he saw Sidney Crosby motoring around the net, and Niskanen saw no Predators in front of him so he snuck into a position to shoot. Giving Sidney Crosby a passing option is always a smart decision and the league's leading scorer put a pass right on Niskanen's stick allowing him to hammer one past Pekka Rinne, who had missed the last 51 games to injury.

However just 12 seconds later, Nashville would strike back after Marc-Andre Fleury was unable to corral a bouncing puck, and had a lot of guys in white shirts stationary in front of him. The tie was broken in the third period for Niskanen's second goal, on the power play, after a nice pass from Evgeni Malkin.

Chris Kunitz would put the exclamation point on the game with a one-timer from Crosby that Rinne had no chance on and the Pittsburgh Penguins would skate out of town with their first post-Olympic win.

A few more thoughts on the game:
  • A low shooting affair with each team only getting 19 shots on goal, despite five power plays for the Penguins and four for the Predators. Blocks and missed nets ruled the day, the Preds had 30 shot attempts not on goal, and the Pens weren't far behind them with 28.
  • The only player who didn't have an issue getting shots on net was Kunitz, who put 7 on target including his goal and another A+ prime chance in the first period when Crosby gave him a pass on a two-on-one. Kunitz ended up shooting the puck into the sprawling Rinne's leg pad.
  • Another A+ chance lost out on was the empty net. Crosby had a chance to shoot, but because he's Sidney Crosby elected to give Glass a chance at it. With no one in front of him and a straight angle from the middle of the ice, Glass...missed.
  • Simon Despres has taken a minor penalty in his last three NHL games. Not an ideal way to show that he belongs in the lineup. And, when he took his penalty, Robert Bortuzzo was in the box serving his fighting major, dropping the Pens down to four defensemen for a time.
  • Speaking of not ideal, with the trade deadline impending, please Ray Shero say we've seen the last of Chuck Kobasew and Taylor Pyatt.
  • Nice change by Bylsma to put Orpik with Olli Maatta and Niskanen with Rob Scuderi. Splitting the Maatta-Niskanen pair that's been so effective isn't what they wanted to do, but neither Paul Martin nor Kris Letang will be back in the lineup any time soon, so addressing team issues now is necessary.
Now the Pens are off to California for two games against top Western competition...And if anyone sees Shea Weber just tell him that Tanner Glass has a message for him: "you ain't so bad".