Pittsburgh’s 4-3 overtime victory on Thursday night was about the Penguins establishing the type of identity head coach Dan Bylsma expects from his hockey team.
The Penguins fell behind, 1-0, just 53 seconds into the contest, but they didn’t let that steer them from ‘getting to their game.’
To a man, the Penguins invested themselves for 60-plus minutes, with each of the 18 skaters and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury perfectly executing his own individual role. The result was Pittsburgh totally outplaying Nashville over the final two-plus periods.
Fleury made every key save the Penguins needed in goal, stopping 21 shots, while Pittsburgh’s offensive superstars did their job at the other end. Sidney Crosby (2G-1A) and Evgeni Malkin (1G-1A) were threats to score every time they stepped onto the ice, while the red-hot Kris Letang scored the game-winning goal in overtime and added two helpers.
On this night it was more than just the stars. The fourth line of Eric Tangradi-Craig Adams-Mike Rupp established a forechecking presence early and allowed the Penguins to re-take the momentum after Nashville started strong. Pascal Dupuis knocked a potential goal out of the crease in overtime less than a minute before Letang’s winner. Defensemen Deryk Engelland, Andrew Hutchinson and Ben Lovejoy all played solid if unspectacular defense to keep the Penguins in the game long enough for the big guns to strike.
The Penguins’ defensive corps has been at the forefront of the team’s current four-game winning streak. Perhaps no blueliner is playing better right now than Kris Letang. The 23-year-old Montreal, Quebec native was the star of the night for Pittsburgh on Thursday, scoring his second goal of the season in overtime and adding two assists during regulation to post his first three-point effort of the year.
Letang, who is now tied with Colorado’s Jean-Michael Liles for the scoring lead among defensemen with eight points (2G-6A), finished the night with four shots, one blocked shot and a plus-2 rating in 26:35 minutes of ice time. Letang’s plus-9 rating on the season ranks second (tied) in the NHL.
Letang is now riding a three-game scoring streak which has seen him pick up six points (2G-4A).
When Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist scored 5:08 into the third period, it could have been deflating for the Penguins, who since the middle of the first period had dominated the game. Instead, the Penguins continued to fire pucks at will towards Pekka Rinne, finally getting rewarded when Sidney Crosby scored on an Evgeni Malkin rebound at 12:56 of the third period. After that goal, you just knew this was a game the Penguins weren’t losing.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Kris Letang scored on a slap shot with 1:11 left in overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Thursday night.
Sidney Crosby added two goals and an assist for Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist and Letang helped set up two scores, in addition to his winning goal.
Pittsburgh’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Predators on Thursday night improved the team’s road record to 3-0. That marks the second-consecutive season the Penguins have opened 3-0 on the road. Last year, the Penguins went on to win their first seven games away from Mellon Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury was clutch between the pipes for the Penguins, as he stopped 21 of 24 shots to pick up his first win of the season. Fleury was especially sharp for the Penguins on breakaways, where he denied Nashville’s J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan.
The Penguins, who are already playing without injured defensemen Brooks Orpik (groin) and Zbynek Michalek (upper-body), dodged a bullet midway through the first period. Kris Letang blocked a Jerred Smithson shot with his foot and skated gingerly to the bench. Letang missed only a few shifts before returning later in the period.
The scoring summary reads that Evgeni Malkin picked up the Penguins’ first goal, but it was a couple of nice plays that didn’t make the scoresheet which set up the tally. Mark Letestu won the initial faceoff, working the puck to Kris Letang at the left point. Letang did a nice job of faking his shot and getting a Predator out of position before sending a shot towards the net which resulted in Malkin’s goal.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continued their hot streaks against the Predators. Both players scored in the second period to improve their scoring streaks to five games each. Crosby has picked up 10 points (6G-4A), while Malkin has notched seven points (2G-5A).