After a rough loss to Dallas, the Pens were on to face another one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Old friend James Neal came in to the game leading the Preds in goals and points. Nashville started the season on a roll, compiling a 6-1 record and scoring the first goal of the game in each of the seven contests.
Pittsburgh came in reeling from a rough loss to a clearly superior Stars team. Mike Johnston finally mixed up the lines in the hopes of inspiring some chemistry. Pascal Dupuis made his long-awaited return to the top line with Crosby and Hornqvist. Kessel dropped to the second line with Malkin and Plotnikov. Kunitz found himself on the third line, while David Perron landed on the fourth.
It’s hard to say from this game whether the jumbled lines really worked, since Nashville is extremely sound on defense. However, the results appeared positive, since the Pens were able to beat a very good team.
Pretty good crowd in Nashville as well. Nice to see the fans responding to the success the team is having.
Early in the period, Colin Wilson practically snapped Dumoulin’s neck and took a five-minute major boarding penalty in the process. The Nashville penalty kill smothered the Pens’ PP and allowed only two shots for the entire five minutes. Dumoulin, thankfully, came back from the dressing room apparently no worse for wear.
Plenty of back-and-forth hockey and several momentum shifts, but no goals.
Brian Rust blocked a shot with his hand and went to the locker room.
About five minutes in to the period, the Pens made a bad change and Fleury made a solid save on an odd-man rush for the Preds.
Malkin took a penalty late in the period. Dupuis was settling into his old role as a penalty killer. When Malkin jumped back on the ice at the end of the penalty, he took the puck up the left wing and dropped it to Kunitz. Kunitz didn’t miss the opportunity, burying it behind Rinne.
Good to see Kunitz getting involved in the scoring, since he has been pretty quiet since last season.
It was sure to happen sometime. After the Pens got called for too many men on the ice, the puck found its way to Neal with six Nashville attackers. Tie game.
Kessel iced it with a goal that was vintage Phil. He spun around a Predators player at his own blue line, blew past everyone up the left wing, cut to the net, and beat Rinne.
What a player. If everybody can get on his level, this team might just turn out okay.