This was a nice reprieve from what the Penguins have been doing for much of the last couple weeks. Nashville is on something like a 17 day road trip and this was the final game in that trip and they took advantage. Nashville stud goaltender Pekka Rinne has been out and injured for a while now and the Penguins took advantage of what the Preds threw out there. After scoring zero even strength goals over the last three games they scored three tonight and it was fun to see.
The game actually didn't start out so well as the pairing of Olli Maatta and Kris Letang had a pretty brutal shift that was extended thanks to the Penguins not being able to get the puck out of the zone and it resulted in Nashville taking the lead only 2:28 in the game. Not the way the Penguins wanted to start but they made up for it. The second half of the first period they seemed like they got their legs and it was pretty much over from there.
While scoring four goals in the game was really nice it was good to see who they got the production from. Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, and Letang scored the first three goals for the Penguins and these are some guys that were really struggling to get things going. Dupuis especially has been struggling on that top line and he actually scored on a snipe job to open up the scoring on a face-off play with Brandon Sutter winning the face-off back to him and then Neal found the back of the net on the power play as he got a redirection on an Evgeni Malkin shot.
The Penguins really controlled this game. They outshot Nashville 33-18 on the night and went 28-19 in the face-off circle and really took advantage of a team that looked tired and beaten down. The Penguins will take the win but while they had control of this game the entire time it wasn't really a complete performance. They had 10 giveaways and did have their times of being sloppy. This isn't the worst game they have played but it can certainly be better.
An underrated player in the game tonight was Marc-Andre Fleury. He's been really good this season and despite the previous three game losing streak he's been stingy giving up five goals in the last three games and even though he gave up five in the loss to the Rangers over a week ago he's been as solid as it gets this year. All it took was one goal late in the second period or early in the third to make it a two goal game and give the Preds some confidence.
After playing like one game a week they will be back on the ice tomorrow against New Jersey. I think some of the struggle recently has to do with the team not being able to get into a flow so getting some games in short order will be good for them overall.