Pittsburgh extended their winning streak to four games, defeating the Nashville Predators 4-3 on a Kris Letang OT winner with 1:11 left in overtime. The Penguins improved to 5-3 on the season.
Pittsburgh battled all night and kept responding in a game that the feel of a hockey game in late March or April. “Outstanding hockey game, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said in his post-game comments.
The Penguins trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 throughout the game and their two star forwards were the catalysts in the win.
Sidney Crosby scored 2 goals and added an assist and Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist in the win. Although the Penguins needed overtime to knock off the Predators for their 4th straight win, when Crosby and Malkin combine for 5 points in a game and play with the kind of intensity they did, the Penguins are likely to come out on the winning side.
What stood out with Malkin and Crosby’s performance tonight was their determination and it caught the attention of their head coach.
“Our guys kept responding and the way Geno and Sid….determination we played with there in the third to get that goal and then again in overtime, that was a pretty impressive hockey game in a lot of different areas, ” Bylsma said.
The Predators held a 3-2 lead in the third but Crosby tied it at the 12:56 mark, beating Pekka Rinne with a slap shot from the left circle for his sixth goal of the season and second goal of the game.
On that goal, Malkin had a great individual play outworking a defender and getting the puck to the net and Crosby put it home to tie the game.
Pittsburgh controlled play in the third, out-shooting Nashville 17-3 in the period. Crosby (9 shots on goal) and Malkin (8 shots on goal) combined for 17 shots in the game.
Crosby who has 10 points in his last 8 games, including 6 goals, set up Letang for the OT winner to close out the game with a three point night.
Letang assisted on Malkin’s second period tally and Crosby’s third period marker, good for a three point night as production from the Penguins defensemen continue to be a nightly occurance for the team.
With Orpik, Michalek injured, Letang has stepped up his play and led the Penguins with 26:35 of ice time. Letang was also a +2 in the game and is now a team-high +9 on the season.
**Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury made 21 saves to earn his first win of the season. Making his first start in eight days, Dan Bylsma talked like a coach whose going right back to Fleury on Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues but word on Wednesday was that the plan was for Fleury to start against Nashville, Tampa Bay and Johnson start Saturday night against St. Louis.
“That was a pretty impressive hockey game in a lot of different areas and great to come up very big for Flower who played very well and get the win for him, ” Bylsma said.
Bylsma on more than one occasion praised Fleury’s play tonight.
Fleury was tested early and Nashville jumped in front just 53 seconds into the game. Fleury rebounded well after the Predators opening goal but overall he was “Okay”. He was a little shaky in the final 25 minutes of the game.
**Defenseman Andrew Hutchinson was a player Dan Bylsma pointed out in his point game comments about players stepping up in certain situations. Bylsma pointed out a key block by Hutchinson who had an assist in the game and led the Penguins with 4 blocked shots.
For a defenseman looking to stay with the Big Club, Hutchinson has to catch the attention of the coaching staff for good reasons and he appeared to do so tonight.
**Tyler Kennedy saw extensive playing time late in the game. Kennedy saw minutes with the second power play unit and got shifts in the 3rd and overtime with Sidney Crosby, assisting on Letang’s OT winner.
**Eric Tangradi had 8:56 of ice time, the only forward who played under 10 minutes. Tangradi on the 4th line has not been surprising as the Penguins want to give players who are going to be here a longer look but what’s been interesting is the zero amount of playing time Tangradi is getting of late on the power play.
The 4th line though of Tangradi – Craig Adams and Michael Rupp was very effective, playing a puck possession game.
**Defenseman Deryk Engelland fought Kevin Klein in the second period, delivering several upper cuts. Engelland now has 9 fighting majors in 16 career NHL games.
Goal NSH: 0:53 David Legwand (2)
Assists: Jordin Tootoo, Joel Ward
Goal PIT: 0:54 Evgeni Malkin (3)
Assists: Mike Comrie, Kris Letang
Goal NSH: 8:03 Cody Franson (1) (Power Play)
Assists: Francis Bouillon, Martin Erat
Goal PIT: 13:51 Sidney Crosby (5)
Assists: Chris Kunitz, Andrew Hutchinson
Goal NSH: 5:08 Patric Hornqvist (3)
Assists: Colin Wilson, Martin Erat
Goal PIT: 12:56 Sidney Crosby (6)
Assists: Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang
Goal PIT: 3:49 Kris Letang (2)
Assists: Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy