Predators 5, Penguins 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Ryan Suter's power-play goal at 9:04 of the third period broke tie, and the Nashville Predators beat the slumping Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Thursday night to snap a five-game losing streak.
Pittsburgh has lost six of its last seven games.
With Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi in the penalty box for interference, Suter fired a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. The puck deflected off of Pittsburgh defenseman Mark Eaton and past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Petr Sykora put the Penguins in front 1-0 at 14:18 of the first period off of a nice pass from Sidney Crosby. Pittsburgh made 3-0 on goals by Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot 21 seconds apart before the second period was 4 minutes old.
| Bounces Go Preds Way
After watching what seemed like every bounce go against the Preds during their recent skid, things finally reversed a little bit in tonight’s game as two of Nashville’s five goals deflected off of Pittsburgh players on the way into the net. On Jerred Smithson’s game-tying goal late in the third period, the shot ramped off a defenseman’s stick into the upper corner of the net. Then on Ryan Suter’s game-winning goal, Suter’s blast from the left point deflected high off a Penguins player in front of the net to severely change the path of the shot on its way past Marc-Andre Fleury.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
It’s easy to chalk things up to luck, but each of those "bounces" was created by hard work.
On Smithson’s goal, Joel Ward gave a tremendous effort in the offensive corner – banging hard in the corner to knock the puck free from one Pens player and then making a diving swipe to poke the puck to Smithson and keep it away from a second Pittsburgh player before the Pens were able to clear the play.
On Suter’s goal, Ryan Jones was battling with the Penguins defense in front of the net, which allowed him to be in perfect position to grab the loose puck when it was slashed off Jason Arnott’s stick in the corner. Jones calmly fed the puck to Shea Weber at the right point, retained his positioning and shuffled the relay from Weber over to Suter at the opposite point to set up the shot.
So while the bounces appeared like a little luck going the Preds direction, each of those “bounces” were created by hard work plays behind the scenes.
Staal's goal spelled the end of the night for Nashville goalie Dan Ellis, with Predators coach Barry Trotz lifted his starter for backup Pekka Rinne.
Earlier Thursday, Staal signed a four-year contract extension with the Penguins.
Nashville scored three consecutive goals to conclude the wild second period.
Martin Erat's goal at 7:57 got the Predators on the board. David Legwand scored a short-handed goal at 13:32, and Jerred Smithson tied it with 54.6 left in the second.
Legwand's goal was set up by Erat on a 2-on-1 short-handed rush. From the left side, Erat sent a cross-ice pass to Legwand in the right circle. Legwand beat a helpless Fleury with a one-timer to the glove side. Two of Legwand's seven goals on the season have been scored with the Predators short-handed.
Greg Zanon's empty-net goal capped the scoring for Nashville.
Notes: Prior to the game, the NHL presented Nashville captain Jason Arnott with a silver stick in honor of his 1,000th game played on Dec. 20. ... Pittsburgh has allowed eight short-handed goals against this season.
Barry Trotz Quotes
On scoring more goals…
"I think that we went in to the game very bold. We knew how Pittsburgh played, we were going to have to come out and make them play in their end and I thought we did a really good job for two periods. We got tested. Our resiliency got tested tonight. When you are playing really well, and when you’ve basically had no chances and pucks are going in off your own guys into the net, and you’re losing the hockey game, I think there’s a point, when we were losing 3-0, it was a very telling point. I think as a team, for me, that right there they could’ve said, “Uncle”, and they didn’t. We always talk about that you hang on a little bit longer, a few seconds longer than everybody else, you don’t realize how close you are. We hung on a little longer and we found out that we were really close."
On Arnott’s own goal…
|Arnott's First 1000 Games Loaded With Highlights
Predators captain Jason Arnott is one of the most respected veterans in the NHL. Originally a top-10 pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1993 Draft, Arnott has achieved both team and personal success during his career – Stanley Cup Champion, World Junior Gold Medalist, NHL Rookie of the Year, two-time NHL All-Star, and NHL team captain. He’s compiled an impressive career highlight reel and recently he added another honor. On December 20 in Nashville’s win over the NY Islanders, Arnott skated in his 1000th career NHL game, the league’s premier marker for career longevity.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
"I gave Arnott a lot of credit. On the bench, their line got scored on back to back, both off of them and I didn’t think that they were highly executed plays. It was dumb luck, it went off of us and right there we could’ve put our head down. Arnott said to Legwand and Erat, ‘We owe the team three.’ The next shift went out and you could tell the determination. Legwand really threw the puck there quickly, with Martin Erat
hanging in there, to get that first one. Then, we got the short-handed goal, which is hard to do. I think we broke up a play and blocked a shot, and went up ice."
On Smithson’s goal…
"With the Smithson goal, they were really digging hard and he just stood with it. Those are the kinds of goals that we need. Those are the kind of goals that are scored in this league. The power play won us a hockey game and we got the goal in the third when it really mattered. I’m really happy for the guys because they found out a lot about themselves."
On the game coming up against Chicago…
"We still have a big hole right now. We have the Blackhawks, who are a very good hockey team in this league right now. Today was a great character test. The fans were absolutely phenomenal and the guys really dug in there and did a great job."
On the defense…
"To seal the deal, it was our defense. Guys like Zanon putting the icing on the cake for the fifth goal. It was good."
On switching the goalie…
"The only reason I did that was to change the luck. It wasn’t anything about how Ellis was playing, I was just trying to change the luck. Low and behold, they came down and scored again, but that’s all it was. I wasn’t mad at Ellis, I was just trying to change the luck and just trying to slow it down for a second. We had a really good first period, and those are hard to take sometimes."
Captain Jason Arnott
On coming back after being down…
"After we went down, I didn’t know what to think. Things were just not going our way but we were still playing really hard and we just dug in. I told Leggy (Legwand) and Marty (Erat) we need three goals here, no matter how they went in. We banged away at the first one and everybody just rose to the next level and just kept playing."
On turning the game around…
"We were doing all the right things, but the bounces weren’t going our way. Once we got that first goal, you could see the whole bench know that this was it, this is when we are going to come back. Everybody pulled through. I’ve been saying this all along that heart and character are going to win hockey games, and that’s what it did tonight."
On winning …
"It’s a huge win for us. We have a long way to go and this isn’t the end of it, but it’s something to build on and something to get our confidence going. We put pucks in the net finally, which is nice, and got some guys goals tonight. That’s huge for our team and we have to come ready to work tomorrow and have fun and keep working hard."
Defenseman Shea Weber
"For the moment, it feels good, but it’s only one. It’s nice to get out of that funk, and tonight we found a way to pull through. Hopefully we can get on a roll now."
On turning the game around…
"That’s what we are looking for. We haven’t had a lot of that this year. We’ve either had the lead and kept it or we’ve lost games. I like the way we came back."
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
"It feels great to win, we need more of these. The guys did a great job. We came back, and we battled back and played hard. I think lately we’ve been doing that and tonight it paid off and it feels great."
On replacing Ellis…
"You have to be ready to come in, but you don’t really think about it. You just enjoy the game, watch the game and make sure to be prepared. Those goals were just a wake-up call for the team. Danny did a good job and I just went to relieve, and it went well."
On turning the game around …
"The guys really decided that this is it, we have to come back, and they showed it on the ice."
|Three star selections