FINAL
FLA
1
BOS
4
FINAL
DET
3
NJD
4
FINAL
DAL
2
CBJ
4
FINAL
COL
4
CHI
2
FINAL
TBL
2
STL
4
FINAL
PIT
3
NSH
1
FINAL OT
NYI
3
WPG
2
FINAL
VAN
0
PHX
1
FINAL
OTT
2
EDM
3
FINAL OT
CAR
3
SJS
2
PIT
51-24-7
NSH
38-32-12

19 SOG
19 SOG

Two goals by Penguins' Niskanen ruin Rinne's return

John Manasso  - NHL.com Correspondent | Wednesday, 03.05.2014 / 12:01 AM

NASHVILLE -- The Pittsburgh Penguins had yet to win coming out of the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

In two games, the Penguins yielded 10 goals and suffered a thrashing at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks in a Stadium Series game at Soldier Field on Saturday.

But the Penguins got things back in order against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. Defenseman Matt Niskanen scored two goals, including the game-winner on a power play at 7:29 of the third period, in a 3-1 win that spoiled the return of goalie Pekka Rinne.

Sidney Crosby assisted on each of the three Pittsburgh goals; he leads the NHL with 54 assists and 83 points. The win was the first in four games for Pittsburgh (41-16-4).

"We weren't happy," said Niskanen, who logged a team-high 23:39 of time on ice and was plus-1. "This has been going on for a while. We've had some bad habits creep into our game, and I think we addressed some things and made some adjustments tonight and guys were really focused in. It was good to see. You saw a lot of effort, second-effort-type stuff out there tonight. Guys were really competitive. Good, detailed effort and a good road win."

Nashville's David Legwand was whistled for hooking Chris Kunitz at 6:47 of the third period as Legwand attempted to prevent a 3-on-2 by Pittsburgh. Directly preceding Niskanen's game-winner was an odd sequence in which Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury skated far out of his crease to prevent a breakaway by Paul Gaustad. The two made glancing contact and the puck popped up in the air. Fleury came up with it and started the breakout that led to Niskanen's slap-shot goal, his ninth of the season.

Fleury said his heart was racing as he and Gaustad reached the puck at the same time, jamming it into the air.

"I thought I could get there maybe a little quicker," said Fleury, who made 18 saves in his NHL-leading 32nd win.

Pittsburgh, owner of the League's top power play, failed to connect on its first two opportunities Tuesday, even though it moved the puck well and created good chances. The Penguins finished 1-for-5 with the extra man.

"We had a couple of pretty good looks," Niskanen said. "We screwed it up ourselves a couple of times. Just didn't connect on a pass or they pressured us hard on the first couple of power plays. We were able to find some space on the next couple. Had some good looks and got the one we needed at the right time."

The game was the first for Rinne since Oct. 22, when a hip infection sidelined him. Rinne was sharp throughout but no more so than in the first period when he went across the crease to stop Kunitz's bid with his right pad on a 2-on-1 set up by Crosby. He finished with 16 saves.

"It's great to be back," Rinne said. "It was a good way to start the game, but if I get another chance I would like to get at least another one of those goals back and give us a better chance to have a push at the end. We played hard, but the chances they got were on the power plays and, obviously, 5-on-4 is tough."

After Rinne held the Penguins off the board in the first period, Niskanen scored 27 seconds into the second. His slap shot from the right faceoff dot eluded Rinne low to the glove side after Crosby fed him from behind the net.

Nashville tied the game 12 seconds later. Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta misplayed the puck behind the net, and it ended up coming to the point, where Mike Fisher shot it on goal. Patric Hornqvist put in the rebound for his 12th goal and second in three games.

The Predators had a goal disallowed with 3:14 to go in the first period; following a lengthy review, it was ruled Gaustad kicked the puck into the net. Forward Nick Spaling, in his first game back after more than a month off with a lower-body injury, outraced Maatta to the puck and his wrist shot bounced off Fleury's chest. Gaustad crashed the net and the puck bounced off his lower right leg over the goal line.

One of the keys for Pittsburgh was holding Nashville's seventh-ranked power play scoreless in four chances. Before the game, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma talked about how it would require courage to block the shot of Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, who has one of the hardest in the NHL. During one power play, Pittsburgh's Tanner Glass, whose stick was broken, twice blocked Weber's shot in quick succession.

Bylsma said three players stood up on the bench in excitement and that Glass' courage provided the team with an emotional lift.

"I thought our [penalty kill] was exceptional," Bylsma said. "We saw Tanner Glass come up with the huge blocks in the first period on Shea Weber. … on probably the hardest shot in the League, taking those. They did a great job."

Glass said he had some lingering stings from the blocks but "nothing too serious."

Kunitz scored his 28th goal with 2:55 remaining.

Nashville (26-26-10; 1-3-2 in its past six) began the day six points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card spot in the Western Conference. That margin did not change; the Stars lost 4-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nashville has scored one goal in each of its past two games, regulation losses, and was 0-for-10 combined on the power play.

"I think every game is in itself a microcosm," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "In the Winnipeg game (a 3-1 loss on Saturday), it was [goalie Ondrej Pavelec]. He was fantastic and probably took a couple of goals. Today we hit a couple of posts."

1st2nd3rdT
PIT
NSH
Scoring Summary
1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
00:27PIT Matt Niskanen (8) Slapshot - ASST: Sidney Crosby (52), Brian Gibbons (6) 1 - 0 PIT
00:39NSH Patric Hornqvist (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Nick Spaling (13), Mike Fisher (17) 1 - 1 Tie
3rd Period
07:29PIT PPG - Matt Niskanen (9) Slapshot - ASST: Evgeni Malkin (43), Sidney Crosby (53) 2 - 1 PIT
17:05PIT Chris Kunitz (28) Slapshot - ASST: Sidney Crosby (54) 3 - 1 PIT
Three Stars of the Game
Matt Niskanen
1st
G: 2Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 1
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 1TOI: 23:39
Sidney Crosby
2nd
G: 0Shots: 0
A: 3Hits: 0
PTS: 3PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 21:56
Evgeni Malkin
3rd
G: 0Shots: 3
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: -1TOI: 19:36
Penalty Summary
1st Period
09:49NSH Simon Moser  Slashing against  Jussi Jokinen
17:34PIT James Neal  Boarding against  Michael Del Zotto
19:36NSH Colin Wilson  Fighting (maj) against  Robert Bortuzzo
19:36PIT Robert Bortuzzo  Fighting (maj) against  Colin Wilson
2nd Period
04:26PIT Simon Despres  Holding against  Nick Spaling
09:16NSH Michael Del Zotto  Tripping against  Brian Gibbons
11:11PIT Jussi Jokinen  Too many men/ice - bench
3rd Period
06:47NSH David Legwand  Hooking against  Chris Kunitz
10:21PIT Matt Niskanen  Hooking against  Paul Gaustad
11:19NSH David Legwand  Interference against  Joe Vitale
17:05NSH Shea Weber  Unsportsmanlike conduct
17:05NSH Shea Weber  Misconduct (10 min)
shots by period
PeriodPITNSH
1st87
2nd44
3rd78
Total1919
Team Stats
CategoryPITNSH
Power Plays1/50/4
Hits1313
Faceoff Wins3233
Giveaways1111
Takeaways68
Blocked Shots1717
Penalty Minutes1325
  • PITTSBURGH
  • NASHVILLE
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
2M. NiskanenD2013223:39
3O. MaattaD0001023:04
4R. ScuderiD0010021:01
12C. KobasewR000007:34
14C. KunitzL1027018:45
15T. GlassL0000011:33
16B. SutterC0001014:45
17T. PyattL0000010:02
18J. NealL00-12218:15
27C. AdamsR0000012:32
36J. JokinenL00-11016:01
41R. BortuzzoD0000511:04
44B. OrpikD0001023:31
46J. VitaleC0000013:12
47S. DespresD0000212:28
49B. GibbonsC0120013:06
71E. MalkinC01-13019:36
87S. CrosbyC0320021:56
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
29M. Fleury1819.94759:56
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
3S. JonesD0000016:58
4R. EllisD0011020:12
5M. Del ZottoD0000216:45
6S. WeberD00-221226:18
7M. CullenC00-11010:47
11D. LegwandC00-12418:01
12M. FisherC0112020:03
13N. SpalingC0112014:24
15C. SmithC00-11016:30
21S. MoserC00-1129:35
24E. NystromL0001015:22
25V. StalbergL0000012:43
27P. HornqvistR1011014:50
28P. GaustadC00-11013:35
33C. WilsonC0000512:04
42M. EkholmD0010013:17
57G. BourqueL00-13013:56
59R. JosiD00-21026:37
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
35P. Rinne1619.84259:21