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Penguins vs. Predators Recap: Nashville weathers early storm, hangs on to beat Pittsburgh 3-1

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The Pens throw the kitchen sink at Nashville early, but Pekka Rinne plays well in Pittsburgh for once

NHL: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

It’s a happy return for the Penguins who get Olli Maatta back from injury for his first game since February 11th.

First period

The Predators start the game off better, and score quickly just 1:35 into the contest. Craig Smith makes a very nice deflection on a Matt Irwin point shot that ends up with a major change of direction on Matt Murray. 1-0 Nashville.

Shots in the game started 6-2 NSH, but the Pens got their legs under them and roared back to go on a 17-2 spree of shot advantages. Unfortunately for them, Pekka Rinne has literally his first good period playing hockey in the city of Pittsburgh.

Four shots on goal came from the stick of Sidney Crosby in the first period alone. Overall shots in the first were 22-11 Pittsburgh. But thanks to Rinne, the score of the game is 1-0 Nashville.

Second period

The Pens get an early power play (second of game) but have significant issues moving the puck up the ice on zone entry attempts and it basically goes no where.

A bit later a third power play for Pittsburgh, which makes the third power play of the whole game, but again, not much happening.

Shots halfway through the period are 7-6 for NSH, and Pittsburgh’s spent 40% of the first half of it on the power play, so that about tells you all you need to know about how that went.

Three PP’s to zero means, well you know what it means. Nashville gets a pretty weak call for their first power play and they make it count, Viktor Arvidsson wrists a shot from the left circle past Murray to make it 2-0.

Shots in the second period are 10-9 Nashville.

Third period

Not much going on, the Pens get a fourth power play but the only notable thing that happens is Arvidsson gets a clean breakaway but Murray makes a big leg save on the deke.

Dominik Simon takes a penalty but Pittsburgh kills it off.

Game has settled down into a boring game - good for Nashville being on the road and up 2-0.

2:32 left and P.K. Subban delivers a (probably unnecessary) nail in the coffin firing a shot from the point that was dippin’ and divin’ past Jack Johnson’s shot block attempt and Murray to make it 3-0.

The Pens go ahead and pull the goalie, and hey, they ruin Rinne’s shutout. Nick Bjugstad wraps it around and pops out from the side of the net Rinne doesn’t expect. 3-1.

But the Pens get no closer and fall in this one by the score of 3-1.

Some Thoughts

  • Power play without Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin was very lacking. The first 37 minutes of the game the Pens had three cracks on it. They didn’t come close to scoring.
  • Add in that Nashville DID score on their first power play at a time to make it 2-0 and boy, that sort of spelled curtains for the Pens pretty early on.
  • The yellow third jerseys now move to 10 wins and 2 losses. Still a successful turn in the new threads but it’s a shame they couldn’t get much going in them.
  • Phil Kessel got an assist on Bjugstad’s goal but otherwise...Pretty quiet. Patric Hornqvist....pretty quiet. Pittsburgh needs more from both of those guys right now.
  • Kinda felt like once Rinne and the Preds held up for the first 20 minutes when the Pens threw so much at them, after that Pittsburgh melted away and didn’t have the same intensity in this one.
  • Then again, Mike Sullivan red in the face and screaming at the ref at 25 seconds left down 2 goals for a hand pass (that wasn’t a hand pass to Sullivan’s point) kinda goes in the opposite direction. The coach was in it all the way, even if the game was decided.
  • Eh, Pittsburgh wins in Nashville last week, big picture you split a season-series with a pretty quality out of conference opponent, that’s not terrible.
  • Then again, in the immediate picture - tough one to take falling behind NYI and staying somewhat in reaching distance for Carolina.

The Pens get those Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon to salvage the division, and possibly even officially clinch a playoff berth. Until then!