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Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Nashville Predators 2: Kessel Fuels Pens Romp

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Nothing was working tonight. Tomorrow is Friday. Full stop.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators miss out on their third straight opportunity to clinch the playoffs, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.

The Penguins were just too fast and too skilled for the Preds tonight, who struggled defensively. With Ryan Ellis out, the Preds tried to piece together their defensive unit, which included an emergency call-up of Stefan Elliott. As you might expect, there was a lot of miscommunication and poor decision making in the defensive zone and neutral ice. Trying to keep up with a number of world-class players is not easy. Phil Kessel scored the Pens first two goals, then later Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, and Nick Bonino added to the lead.

Ryan Johansen tied the game early on, but not before Kessel responded with his 2nd. James Neal got a goal in the 2nd to bring the Preds within 1. But the defense just didn't play well. And because the defense didn't play well, the forwards were tentative in neutral ice and couldn't commit offensively like they have recently.

Pekka Rinne didn't play terribly, but got replaced in the 3rd period in favor of Carter Hutton. Not really sure how to read that. I certainly don't want to speculate, but I will acknowledge that it is odd. Yes, he gave up 4 goals, but I don't think any of them were bench-worthy. The defense on the other hand...

Yeah, nothing looked good tonight.

Except for Calle:

Random Observations

  • The Preds spot the Penguins an early goal, leaving Phil Kessel wide freaking open in the slot. Even Rinne forgot about him, as he was way out of his crease.
  • Arvidsson on the PP! I like that. Get someone out there who isn't afraid to shoot and who is pretty dang good at it.
  • Joey Handsome, tyin' this game up, fools. HJN attracting all the attention (as he is wont to do) and then finds Joey in the circle. Nice momentum shift before the break.
  • GOT dang. Kessel with a rip over Rinne's shoulder. He snuck behind the Preds defense (not quite like Benn on Tuesday, but almost) and had a great look at goal. Just a sick wrister. What's with teams exploiting these long passes through our defense lately?
  • Ekholm is straight up struggling on defense. Not skating well, losing assignments... not a great trend going into the post-season.
  • You know who isn't slow and desperate? James Effing Neal. He pockets home a rebound and gets the Preds back within 1. The boos rain down, though I'm not sure why.
  • Lots of things still not going right for the Preds. They look slow, they can't stay out of the penalty box, and they can't get sustained offensive pressure. Penguins are playing right into the weaknesses of the Preds right now.
  • What the what? Carter Hutton is coming into the game. Ok. So it's a 4-2 game and you want to save him 20 mins? If you were concerned that Rinne might need rest, why start him for the 3rd time in 4 days against a fast team while also calling up a rookie defensemen?
  • Preds are just getting out-worked, all over the ice. Down two goals in the 3rd period and the Penguins are still buzzing.

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Phil Kessel: that trade is starting to look mighty fine right about now.
  • James Neal: 1 goal and 1 assist. HJN making a late push for that goal record.
  • Ryan Johansen: if the Preds had acquired Joey back in July, there could have been three 30 goal scorers on this team.

Tweets of the Night

I know this one isn't Preds related, but DANNNNNNNNNG

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - War-on-Ice - HockeyStats - Natural Stat Trick

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