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Predators outlast Penguins in shootout

by Brian Hunter
Some players were heading off to Vancouver after the game, others were preparing to start a two-week break, but everyone on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators had a little extra hockey to play before getting to those plans.

Cal O'Reilly and Martin Erat scored in the shootout and the Predators rallied for a 4-3 win over the Penguins on Sunday afternoon at Mellon Arena, moving into seventh place in the Western Conference as the NHL shuts down for the remainder of the month due to the Winter Olympics.

Shea Weber scored with 7:43 remaining to force overtime and Dan Ellis finished with 30 saves for Nashville, also stopping Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby in the shootout. Crosby scored his 42nd goal of the season to open the scoring, tying him with Alex Ovechkin for the League lead.

"I thought it was huge to get this win -- especially against a powerhouse like Pittsburgh," said Weber, also a defenseman for Team Canada who was sharing an evening flight with Crosby to Vancouver after the game.

"They've got one of the most complete teams we've seen, and they played a solid game. I thought we did a good job of hanging around and ended up earning two points."

Brooks Orpik had put Pittsburgh ahead 3-2 at 4:51 of the third with his first goal since Nov. 26, 2008. The Penguins enter the break one point behind the Devils for the Atlantic Division lead.

"To be honest, we're aware of the standings but we're really worried about just trying to clean up our own game there and let that other stuff take care of itself," Orpik said.

Crosby and Matt Cooke also scored for the Penguins, who got 24 saves from Fleury. Erat and Jordin Tootoo answered those goals for the Predators, who came back from three one-goal deficits and finished 2-1-1 on a four-game road trip.

"One of the things we pride ourselves on organizationally is that we are resilient and we'll hang in there," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

"There were some adjustments we tried to make during the game a little bit and guys just got it done. They battled hard and I'm just happy we were able to beat them in the shootout."

Crosby blocked a Kevin Klein shot in the second period that left him wincing in pain on the bench afterward, with an apparent injury to his right leg. However, he finished the game without any apparent problem.

"I will be there," Crosby said of Vancouver, where Team Canada was to practice Monday and open against Norway on Tuesday. "I'm on the flight tonight."

Weber tied the score by taking a Marcel Goc feed and ripping his 11th of the season past Fleury from just inside the blue line.

Orpik, a fellow defenseman of the stay-at-home variety, displayed his own offensive ability earlier in the period. Following a Crosby faceoff win, Letang got the puck over to Orpik and he let loose a drive from the point that slipped past Ellis just inside the left post.

"It was a good feeling," Orpik said. "Obviously it didn't last long enough, they scored just a short time after."

Crosby had the only goal of the first, scoring on a power play with 5:17 remaining. Erat answered on a Nashville man advantage 34 seconds into the next period.

Cooke put Pittsburgh back in front at 2:09 when he got to a loose puck after Jordan Staal drove the net and poked it past Ellis. But that lead lasted all of 12 seconds before Tootoo scored his third goal in as many games, a drive that deflected in off the far post after two Penguins ran into each other behind the goal line and coughed the puck up.

"We've got to focus on execution and making the right plays," Crosby said. "It doesn't just happen because you say you want to do that, it's got to be something you make happen out of each and every game, and eventually it becomes natural. But we're not at that point yet and when we get back we'll have to make sure we really bear down."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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