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Aftermath: Predators 4, Penguins 3

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Video: Game Highlights

Video: Crosby | Malkin | Orpik
Photos: Preds 4, Pens 3 (SO)
Aftermath: Pens vs. Predators
Blog: Pens vs. Caps Game Blog
The Penguins gained an advantage on the scoreboard against Nashville but was never able to pull away and bury the Predators. Nashville battled back to force an overtime and shootout session.

The Penguins fell in the shootout – their first loss in a shootout this season – but still earned an important point in the standings. Pittsburgh enters the break with a 36-22-4 record and is only one point behind New Jersey in the Atlantic Division race.

Considering all the injuries the Penguins have endured this season, being one point back behind the Devils and sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference is a healthy position for the team.

The entire NHL will now go into lockdown as the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver takes center stage. After that begins the 20-game sprint to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Those final 20 games will determine how things shake down for the postseason. Pittsburgh is in a solid spot right now but would obviously like climb a little higher by season’s end.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Cal O'Reilly and Martin Erat scored in the shootout and the Nashville Predators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Sunday - a game in which Penguins and Team Canada star Sidney Crosby was seen wincing shortly after blocking a shot.

Bill Guerin and Evgeni Malkin crash the Predators net
(photo by Getty)
What Went Well: Last-Minute Penalty Kill
The Penguins penalty killing has been spectacular over the past few weeks. With Pittsburgh shorthanded for the final two minutes of regulation, the penalty kill was clutch again with the game on the line. The Penguins not only survived the disadvantage but also held Nashville to no shots.

What Could Have Gone Better: Adding Insurance
The Penguins had leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2. Pittsburgh couldn’t find a way to net an important insurance goal. The Penguins didn’t pull away, and the Predators capitalized. Each deficit was erased by the Predators as the team stole an extra point in the contest.
Brooks Orpik went 111 games without a goal. It was only fitting that on the day when his image was featured on the game program with a story about his upcoming Olympic participation with Team USA, that Orpik would snap that drought with his first of the season.

Orpik finished the game with a plus-1 rating, four hits, three shots, one blocked shot and 22:23 minutes of ice time.
The Penguins opened the scoring with a power-play goal with five minutes remaining in the first period. Sergei Gonchar found Sidney Crosby above the near circle. Crosby one-timed a shot through Dan Ellis’ five-hole. Pittsburgh 1, Nashville 0.

The Predators tied the game just 34 seconds into the second period with a man-advantage score. Martin Erat snapped a shot from above the near circle that sneaked through Marc-Andre Fleury’s five-hole. Pittsburgh 1, Nashville 1.

The Penguins regained the lead just 1:35 after Nashville pulled even. Jordan Staal carried the puck strong to the Predators goal, but Ellis stopped his shot. Matt Cooke crashed the net and jammed in the rebound. Pittsburgh 2, Nashville 1.

Nashville ended a three-goal 1:47 outburst by tying the game. The Predators response came only 12 seconds after Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead. Mark Letestu had the puck behind the Pittsburgh goal, but after colliding with a teammate the rubber came free to the right of the net. Jordin Tootoo snapped a shot far side into the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Nashville 2.

The Penguins re-took the lead five minutes into the third period when Brooks Orpik snapped a 111-game goal-less streak. Crosby won a faceoff in the far circle of the Nashville zone and pushed the puck to Kris Letang at the far point. He sent a pass to Orpik at the midpoint. Orpik blasted a shot that went off of the inside of Ellis’ blocker and into the goal. The Mellon Arena crowd responded with a “USA! USA!” chant. Pittsburgh 3, Nashville 2.

In a back-and-forth affair, Nashville made it a 3-3 contest on Shea Weber’s slap shot from the midpoint sneaked through Fleury’s pads with seven minutes to go in regulation. Pittsburgh 3, Nashville 3.

The Penguins failed to score in the shootout, and Nashville netted two goals to earn the victory. Letang and Crosby went for Pittsburgh, while Cal O’Reilly and Erat converted for the Predators. Nashville 4, Pittsburgh 3.
The Penguins put on a beautiful display of passing and puck possession during a delayed penalty call late in the second period. With their goalie pulled and the extra attacker on the ice, Pittsburgh held onto for 66 seconds as Nashville desperately tried to gain possession.

Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a scare when he hobbled to the bench after blocking a shot in the second period in the shin. The stinger wore off and Crosby returned to the game.
> Pittsburgh is now 36-22-4 on the season with an 18-10-3 mark at Mellon Arena. Entering the Olympic break, the Penguins are one point behind New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead.
> The Penguins are now 3-0-2 against Central Division opponents this season.

> Pittsburgh finished its three-game homestand with a 1-0-2 mark heading into the Olympic break, earning four of a possible six points.

> Pittsburgh is now 11-7-3 all-time in its blue jerseys, including 7-3-1 this season.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Crosby PP (42), 14:43 1st period: Penguins 1, Predators 0
NSH, M.Erat PP (19), 0:34 2nd period: Penguins 1, Predators 1
PIT, M.Cooke (12), 2:09 2nd period: Penguins 2, Predators 1
NSH, J.Tootoo (5), 2:21 2nd period: Penguins 2, Predators 2
PIT, B.Orpik (1), 4:51 3rd period: Penguins 3, Predators 2
NSH, S.Weber (11), 12:17 3rd period: Penguins 3, Predators 3
NSH, C.O’Reilly SO

> The Penguins are now 54-25-8 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 28-11-4 at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are now 37-8-5 all-time when scoring first under Bylsma.

> Pittsburgh has successfully killed 50 of its last 58 shorthanded situations (86.2 percent).

> Either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby have figured in on 33 of the last 37 goals for Pittsburgh.

> Sidney Crosby scored his team-leading 42nd goal of the season and added an assist against Nashville. He now has 17 goals and 28 points in his last 18 games. Crosby has points in 10 of his last 12 contests for a total of 20 points (11G-9A).

> Evgeni Malkin extended his season-long scoring streak to 13 games. He now has 22 points (8G-14A) over that span.

> Brooks Orpik snapped a 111-game goal-less streak.
1. M.Erat
2. B.Orpik
3. S.Weber
“I'll take them whatever way I can get them.”
- Brooks Orpik on his first goal in 112 games


Author: Sam Kasan

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