Nashville Predators: Predators Let Emotions Control Game in Pittsburgh Loss

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Evgeni Malkin
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Evgeni Malkin /

The Nashville Predators failed to score a goal in their first return to Pittsburgh since June. As emotions spilled over, the Penguins tore Nashville’s defense to shreds.

Even before puck drop, tonight’s game in Pittsburgh became very interesting with a few lineup decisions. Most notably, Juuse Saros took the ice as the starting goaltender over Pekka Rinne. Additionally, Anthony Bitetto replaced Alexei Emelin on defense, and Pontus Aberg started as Kevin Fiala’s injury kept him from the lineup. Of course, a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final created inevitable drama. It did not take long for that drama to spill over, as extreme physicality defined the game from the start.

First period

The Penguins started the period with a bang, scoring a goal within the first 70 seconds. Evgeni Malkin took advantage of a nice pass from Phil Kessel to snipe a one-timer by Juuse Saros on the first shot of the game. The second goal came almost exactly 10 minutes later, as Jake Guentzel forced in a rebound at 10:57.

Only two penalties were called in the first period – one minor for each team. This is surprising considering how many big hits came in the first few minutes. Nobody, especially in white, was holding back any checks tonight. The Nashville Predators entered the locker room after 20 minutes down by two goals, but feeling that they were still in the game.

Second period

The second period was the best of the game for the Nashville Predators. The visiting team dominated possession and shot production, but was unable to capitalize as Matt Murray stood tall in the Penguins net. Just over 3 minutes into the period, Austin Watson dropped the gloves with Ryan Reaves, who joined Pittsburgh during the offseason.

(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The scrap was illustrative of the evening as a whole for the Predators. Watson took a couple of heavy blows before the linesmen decided he’d received enough abuse. Adding insult to injury, Reaves would go on to score the Penguins’ third at 12:52. Worryingly for Nashville, Saros looked shaky in this period. The Predators were lucky to only concede a single goal during the middle twenty minutes.

Third period

By the time the third period rolled around, the Nashville Predators had all but lost their handle on this game. Just as their power play expired, Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta gave the home team another goal just 33 seconds into the period. Bad blood began to manifest itself in late checks and errant sticks from both sides, and the referees looked lost.

An incredible 17 penalties were called in the final period of the game, equating to a combined 64 infraction minutes. Cody McLeod challenged Ryan Reaves to his second fight of the evening, in which Reaves made short work of the Predators’ enforcer. An incidental high stick from Scott Hartnell on Sidney Crosby resulted in a near-brawl and an inexplicable game misconduct for Hartnell.

It was a very ugly period of hockey.

Michael’s three stars

I’m just not going do this tonight. They’re all Penguins, and there were more than three.

Next: I Want The Red Wings Rivalry Back

The Predators will look to rejuvenate the start to their season with a much-needed home game against the road-weary Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.