Post-Game Musings: at Pittsburgh

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 9:36 PM / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
The game held league-wide intrigue because of the return of Russian sniper Alexander Radulov to the NHL -- and Radulov didn't disappoint, netting a goal in his season debut -- but it was another Russian who stole the show ... Evgeni Malkin was outstanding with two goals and 10 shots on goal, while controlling the play almost every time he took the ice, leading the Penguins to a 5-1 win on Thursday night. The Penguins moved to 13-0-1 in their last 14 games, having scored at least five goals in five of their last six outings as Malkin continues to strengthen his case for league MVP.

The Nashville Predators outshot the Pittsburgh Penguins in all three periods for a 30-23 shots advantage for the full game, but the Penguins scored twice in the first 4:06 and carried that to the win.

Radulov, the subject of headlines across the league all week, lived up to the billing; the line of Radulov with Patric Hornqvist and center David Legwand was effective for the majority of the game, which is very promising for Nashville’s long-term prognosis. Hornqvist had a team-high five shots on goal, Radulov very nearly netted a second goal in the opening moments of the third period, and Legwand hit the post on a crossing feed later in the third.

Now on the musings…

THREE MUSINGS:
Slow Starts: All five of Pittsburgh’s goals came in the first 10:00 minutes of the periods, with four of the five coming within the opening 4:30 of the three frames. The Pens opened the scoring 1:23 into the game and extended the lead to 2-0 at the 4:06 mark of the opening frame; they made it 3-0 at the 1:58 mark of the second period and extended it out to 5-1 with a goal 2:03 into the third period.

Bourque Continues To Impress: Gabriel Bourque had another solid game tonight, finishing with four shots on goal, two hits, and one blocked shot in 14:25 of game action, using his speed to create opportunities while not hesitating to throw his body around when in tight traffic. He was far and away Nashville's best player in the first period of play and backed that up with consistent play in the second and third periods. Before the West Coast Road Trip, Coach Trotz said he was looking for players to separate themselves in the battle for ice time; Bourque appears to have taken the challenge to heart. This is his fourth consecutive strong game after being a healthy scratch in San Jose last week, proving an ability to be successful in a variety of roles: succeeding in a checking line role matched with Matt Halischuk, Nick Spaling, Brandon Yip as well as creating offense with skill players like Andrei Kostitsyn (tonight), Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand (the two previous games). When Paul Gaustad and Colin Wilson return from injuries, the coaches will have some tough roster decisions, but Bourque is making a very strong case to make sure he's not one of the odd men out.

Missed Opportunities: Despite the final score, the total scoring chances were fairly equal in tonight’s game. The Preds had numerous high quality chances, especially in the second period. On the first shift after the Penguins third goal, Andrei Kostitsyn set up Nick Spaling with an empty net, but Spaling shoveled the puck just wide of the far post. A few minutes later, Martin Erat took a two-on-one feed and deked Marc-Andre Fleury out of the net as he approached he goal line, but Erat was unable to control the puck behind the net on a wrap-around attempt and the Preds ended up without a shot on the play. On the first shift after Pittsburgh’s fourth goal, the Preds created a three-on-two rush through the neutral zone which resulted in a crossing feed to Sergei Kostisyn with a half open net, but Kostitsyn pulled the one-timer just wide. In the final minute of the second period, Fisher had an empty net from the center slot, but a Pens defender was able to get a stick in the way at the last instant to deflect the puck over the top of the net. Just to name a quick sampling of the Preds better chances tonight.


THREE STARS
PIT F Evgeni Malkin – 2 goals; game-high 10 shots on goal
PIT F James Neal – 4 assists, +4 plus/minus rating
PIT G Marc-Andre Fleury – 29 saves

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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