Another sold out crowd at Bridgestone Arena and boy were they treated to a dandy. Quite honestly one of the best regular season games I've ever witnessed folks. The Pens came back multiple times in this one and finally took the 2 points with a Kris Letang goal in overtime. Although disappointed, the fans were treated to a great 4-3 OT hockey game.
Felder’s Fickle Five:
1. Losing the Energy As the Game Goes On
- If there is one thing that cost the Preds this game it has to be the fact that Pittsburgh had more legs as the 3rd period wound down. Now, considering the injuries to this Nashville team and the amount of players who are seeing their minutes increased, it's not surprising, and in fact nothing to be ashamed of. The one complaint though is that as they get tired they tend to stop doing the little things that generate quality scoring chances. For years I've complained from time to time about the lack of shots in the 3rd period. Tonight was no different. 5 shots on goal in the 3rd compared to Pittsburgh's 17.
2. Matching Physical Play, Pace, and Tempo
- The one thing that was most impressive to me was that despite being worn down as the game went on, the Preds did well to match the intense pace, play, and tempo that the Pens brought. Both teams were flying out there and made it look like a divisional rival game. You wouldn't believe these teams play each other maybe 3 times every 5 years. Just an interesting matchup that really highlighted all aspects that a hockey game can bring.
3. Containing Crosby
- Sometimes I don't know if this is even possible. When Sid is on his game, it's lights out. A very impressive performance from the NHL superstar who certainly earned his paycheck from this one. I give credit to the Preds D though because they did contain him for awhile. You have to wonder what the outcome would have been if Ryan Suter was not injured. Either way, containing Crosby ended up costing the Preds the game, however that is such a hard task that I can't really see too many fans being upset by the Preds defensive efforts on him.
4. Penalty Killers Get the Job Done In This One
- Credit where it is due. They stopped all 5 Pittsburgh power plays. That's worth noting in my book. Honestly this game should've been Pens by a couple if not for some excellent PK work tonight by the likes of Legwand, Bouillon, and Shane O'Brien.
5. Wanted: Killer Instinct
- Again the Preds had a game in their hands, and it slipped away. This marks the 3rd game in a row that went to OT at the Bridge and also marks the 3rd straight loss in OT. The Preds have to tighten up a bit when it gets to the moments where they can put another team away. All in all, a great start to the season considering the injuries and circumstances, but there is room for improvement in this department.
* Tonight’s scratch for Nashville was Wade Belak. Ryan Suter, Matthew Lombardi, and Marcel Goc were all out due to injury. For the Penguins, Zbynek Michalek, Eric Godard, and Brooks Orpik were all scratched.
* 1ST PERIOD
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 19:07 to go. Well that is one way to start a game. The starting line of Ward, Legwand, and Tootoo give the Pens top line fits and then find the twine. Jordin Tootoo started the shift off with some disruptive hits, helped keep the puck in the Pens end, and then passed to Legwand on the back door for a early and easy tally. Big credit to Joel Ward for taking on 2 Pens behind the net to keep the puck and scoring play alive. I'm not gonna lie. Seeing the Preds shut down line score on the likes of Crosby was pretty entertaining. Legwand (2) from Tootoo (2) and Ward (2). Preds take the early 1-0 lead.
* As the horn sounds for the ned of the period Paul Martin pinches in real deep and hammers home a rebound. Problem is, the horn sounded. The referee waived a no-goal call. The play went to a review and the no goal call stood.
* END OF THE 1ST PERIOD – NSH: 1 PIT: 0 Positives
- Rinne making the necessary saves to keep the game close. Preds keeping the pace with the Pens. Negatives
- Pens lead shots on goal 7-6. Pittsburgh has won 69% of the faceoffs thus far.
* 2ND PERIOD
* GOAL for PITTSBURGH - 19:06 to go. A rebound goal for Evgeni Malkin delights the numerous Pen fans in attendance. Mike Comrie took the initial shot in coos on the stick side. Rinne made the save with the leg pads, however the rebound squirts out to the open glove side where Malkin leaves no doubt and punches the puck into the empty part of the net. A quick goal for the Pens to open the 2nd period, mirroring Nashville in the 1st. Malkin (2) from Comrie (4) and Kris Letang (5). We have a tie game at 1 all.
* POWER PLAY GOAL for NASHVILLE - 11:57 to go. Cody Franson buries a slap shot high stick side on Marc-Andre Fleury. The Preds man advantage had looked pretty poor before the tally. Francis Bouillon gets the primary assist after his shot from the left point was blocked and then went to Franson for the man advantage blast. Franson (1) from Bouillon (1) and Martin Erat (1). Preds now lead 2-1.
* 8:28 into the 2nd period and we have an altercation. Evgeni Malkin clearly boards Jordin Tootoo as he was battling for the puck along the boards. Kevin Klein steps to Malkin and gives him a shove for the dirty hit, and challenges him to drop the gloves. Malkin doesn't man up and then in rushes Deryk Engelland to protect the Penguin star. Klein leads the fight early by dropping some hammer rights. Engelland ties up the right arm of Klein and gets in a few good shots of his own. Somehow the result of this is that the Pens get a power play. That certainly ticked off fans and it was the wrong call. I gave Klein the narrow win in that bout.
* GOAL for PITTSBURGH - 6:09 to go. Sid the Kid scores a wicked goal on the short stick side. Literally found an inch open and wired it in past Rinne. It took a replay for me to see just where that puck snuck in. That's called super skills and it was a super goal to tie this game. Crosby (5) from Chris Kunitz (3) and Andrew Hutchinson (1). Pens tally right back to take this game to a 2-2 tie.
* END OF THE 2ND PERIOD – NSH: 2 PIT: 2 Positives
- Preds took advantage of a power play. Got the faceoffs back to a near 50-50 split. Negatives
- Pens lead the shots on goal 18-16. Out hitting the Preds by a 21-12 margin.
* 3RD PERIOD
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 14:52 to go. The Preds score on the rush (not a common sight) as Patric Hornqvist wires a one-timer home high glove side over MAF. Big props to Colin Wilson with a gorgeous pass that went between his legs and back to Hornqvist without looking. Just a really pretty play that in many ways showcased the future of the Preds and their scoring over the next few seasons. Hornqvist (3) from Wilson (3) and Erat (2). Preds now take a 3-2 lead.
* GOAL for PITTSBURGH - 7:04 to go. Sid the Kid finds twine for the second time. Evgeni Malkin got tangled up with Bouillon, but found a way to corral the bouncing puck near the inside half of the faceoff circle on Rinne's glove side. He fired a low shot, Rinne made a leg pad save, but the rebound popped out to Sid the Kid on the opposite faceoff circle. Crosby buried it low into the empty net as Rinne dove back to the opposite post to attempt an incredible save. Crosby (6) from Malkin (5) and Letang (6). We are tied at 3.
* 3:03 to go. Preds have 1:07 left of a delay of game penalty by Pekka Rinne to kill off. Pittsburgh takes a timeout here to engineer a late power play goal.
* TO OT WE GO! - What an entertaining game tonight. One of my favorite regular season games I've seen thus far.
* GOAL for PITTSBURGH - 3:49 into OT and Kris Letang scores the OT winner. A screen shot that sneaks its way past Rinne. Pens win in OT.
* FINAL SCORE – NSH - 3 PIT - 4.
My Three Stars:
1. Sidney Crosby
- 2 goals, 1 assist, +2 rating, 9 shots on goal, 2 takeaways, and won 46% of the faceoffs he took.
2. Kris Letang
- 1 game winning OT goal, 2 assists, +2 rating, 4 SOG, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot.
3. Martin Erat
- 2 assists, 3 SOG, and 1 hit.
Goalie Grade: B-
– The starting goaltender tonight was Pekka Rinne. Hard to give Peks too much criticism considering the competition. That said, he truly kept the Preds alive to reach OT. Rinne finished the night with 34 saves on 38 shots against. The rebound control tonight wasn't his best, but the Pens knew just where to put it to generate rebounds. The one goal that was questionable was Crosby's first. Peks admitted to "cheating" on that one, however I also feel it was an incredible shot. All in all, not a great night for Peks but a solid enough performance to get his team to OT.
- "Considering your reaction, fair to say you thought Malkin took a cheap shot there?"
- "I wish I could comment on that but I'd probably get fined so I'm not saying it."
- "It's never fun to lose, but the silver lining is you guys have yet to lose in regulation."
- "Yeah. You know I guess it's a little bit of a positive. We just want to win and it's disheartening the last couple of game where we've come up short. We got a point out of it but we're not satisfied with that. We want to start winning hockey games on a regular basis."
- "On Crosby's first goal did you feel like you had the stick side locked up?"
- "Yeah. That's a bad goal. He's a smart player. I was cheating for the pass and he just banged it off my leg. He just outsmarted me."
- "What were your thoughts on Malkin's hit on Tootoo?"
- "From the bench where I was I could not see it at all. To be honest with ya, I did not look at it after the game or between periods, but everybody has said that he left his feet. That's why Kevin Klein came over, and then Engelland came flying in there, and then we get the roughing minor and I didn't quite understand that one."
- "Did the referee give a good explanation?"
- "They said he roughed Malkin. I couldn't see it from where I am. I'm too short behind the bench. (smiles)"
I can't evaluate much more of this game. All I can say is it is one of the most enjoyable games I've ever had the pleasure of attending. This game had everything you could want to see at a rink. It may sound weird, but this game reminded me again of why I love this sport so much. Just a great night to watch hockey in person.
The Predators next game is Saturday night in Dallas. The Stars have had a resurgence this season and are turning out to be one of the tougher Western Conference teams to beat. This one starts at 7 pm CST. Should be interesting to see just how well the Preds match up. They have had their troubles playing on the road at Dallas in the past. Will this be the case this year? Find out Saturday night.
Till the next time, take care.
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