The Nashville Predators (5-1-2) played host to the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-1) on Saturday night for a Western Conference vs Eastern Conference clash. The Eastern Conference Penguins would come out with the win in pretty dominant fashion over the Predators. Nashville came into Saturday’s game as the only team without a regulation loss to their name, that streak would come to an end courtesy of the Penguins.
Here is a bit of a recap of the Predators’ 0-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night:
Pittsburgh threw a wrinkle into their starting lineup by icing a line with Nick Spaling, Evgeni Malkin, and Patric Hornqvist to start the game; a nice move by Pittsburgh head coach Mike Johnston to have the two former Predators start the game on the ice in their return to Nashville.
As soon as the puck dropped to start the game momentum fell to the Penguins’ advantage. The Predators did begin the game out shooting the Penguins 4-0, but the Penguins first shot of the night would count. Sidney Crosby lit the lamp for the fifth time this season 6:21 into the game on his team’s first shot of the night. Assists came from Olli Maatta and the former Predator Hornqvist.
After the goal, momentum remained on Pittsburgh’s side for most of the remaining moments of the opening period.
Nashville would however create their first true quality scoring chance with around two-minutes remaining in the period courtesy of Mike Ribeiro. The Ribeiro shot trickled just past the far post and his linemate James Neal couldn’t get to the puck quick enough to tie the game for Nashville.
Nashville would be out shot 10-8 after the first 20-minutes of play.
The second period wouldn’t be as Pittsburgh-heavy as the opening period, but still the momentum was mostly controlled by the Penguins the entire middle frame.
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Pittsburgh would get the first power play opportunity of the night after a holding penalty committed by Olli Jokinen. The Predators penalty-kill would come up big, not allowing the league’s top power play team take a two-goal advantage early in the second.
Moments after the Predators killed off their penalty, they would be on the other side of the script by getting their first power play opportunity of the night. The man-advantage would come and go however, and the Predators’ power play would remain cold as it has been all season.
After the power play, Filip Forsberg would get a one-on-one chance against the Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury courtesy of a James Neal pass, but Forsberg tried to roof the puck over Fleury’s shoulder but missed the net by a pretty wide margin.
The Predators would get another chance on the man-advantage shortly after, but the power play unit couldn’t manage to create any real scoring chances. Entering the zone on the power play has seemed to be a real problem for Nashville this season, and that was seen on both of the team’s power play chances in the second period.
Head coach Peter Laviolette spoke about the power play’s struggles after the 0-3 loss, saying “We work on it on a daily basis. We have meetings, and we do our best to give it the attention that it needs. I know that through the course of every season for every team there will be a stint where the power play is not where it needs to be or not producing where it needs to be. Maybe this is our stint. We got to get through it.”
Pittsburgh would hold a 22-12 shot advantage after the second period was over, out shooting Nashville 12-4 in the middle frame.
The final period would be all Pittsburgh, just as most of the first and second periods were.
Pittsburgh would get an early chance on the power play courtesy of a Eric Nystrom holding penalty, and the Penguins power play would catch fire.
Crosby sent a back door pass to Malkin who buried probably one of his easiest tip-in goals of his career to give the Penguins a 2-0 advantage.
Pittsburgh would soon get another shot at the man-advantage, and Pittsburgh would light the lamp again after an odd, and what looked to be a frustration influenced hooking penalty committed by Neal. Pascal Dupuis would score a backhander past Pekka Rinne.
Neal would ring a shot off the post around the midway point of the final period, starting somewhat of a rush of Predators chances to get back into the game but the comeback wasn’t meant to be. The Predators would lose their first game in regulation, 0-3.
Roll the film:
The Predators start a six-game road trip beginning on Wednesday as they make a trip to Edmonton to take on the Oilers. The next home game for Nashville will come November 11 against the Edmonton Oilers.