Nashville Predators 0, Pittsburgh Penguins 4: Demons of June

June’s demons are still haunting the Predators. Another unsatisfactory effort in Pittsburgh ends in an ugly loss.

Predators fans have been waiting for this rematch since June 11th. Both Pittsburgh and Nashville were looking to come back from a loss...or a blowout, in Pittsburgh’s case.  Both teams are looking to establish their 2017-2018 identity against former (current?) foes.

The first period started roughly with a goal by Evgeni Malkin less than a minute in. A tripping penalty on Scott Hartnell put the Predators on the penalty kill a few minutes later, but a solid showing by the penalty killers established a bit of confidence for the boys in gold as the period continued. Some missed chances by Filip Forsberg and Pontus Aberg were followed by Jake Guentzel knocking home a rebound to put the Penguins up by another goal.

A power play for the Predators late in the period would take about a full minute to set up, and a slap shot from Roman Josi hit Ian Cole in the face. The whistle blew, and Cole took a trip down the tunnel without a few chiclets.

The power play would expire with two shots on goal from the Preds. The remainder of the first period saw plenty of energy from the Predators, but they were unable to mount a sustained attack in the Penguins zone.

The second period started with some back-and-forth hockey. Colton Sissons absolutely destroyed Malkin the corner. Then, Austin Watson and Ryan Reaves threw down after Watson put Reaves into the Preds bench.

About ten shots on Murray yielded no results,  but the Preds kept up the pressure. An unfortunate tip by Reaves put the Penguins up by 3 goals, and the period ended with an uneventful penalty kill on a Yannick Weber holding call.

As the penalty kill expired at the beginning of the third, the Predators failed to set up in their zone and Olli Maata smacked in the fourth goal of the night. Coach Laviolette seemed to be juggling some line combos around, seeking a bit of inspiration from his struggling team.

Shortly thereafter, McLeod and Reaves threw down the gloves, which ended with McLeod down the tunnel and the Preds on the penalty kill (again). A few seconds later, Sidney Crosby decided to go have some words with the Preds bench and ended up in the box. More rough play, more penalties. Sigh.

Half of the third period involved Josi and Crosby arguing with the refs. There’s clearly an excess of emotion from both benches. Plenty of fisticuffs, penalties, and cheap shots rounded out this disaster of a game.

A miserable result and the Preds are off to an 0-2 start.

Random Observations

  • Saros starts in net. Good thing, because Rinne’s numbers in Pittsburgh are terrible. Saros’ last start against Pittsburgh was “the soup game” in October 2016, so a start involving less food poisoning is always a good thing. Right?
  • Some serious discombobulation leads to a goal by Evgeni Malkin barely over a minute in.
  • Jake Guentzel reminds me of the kid in high school that no one liked but all the teachers loved. Every time he scores...eye roll.
  • The Penguins put together a nice tribute for Nick Bonino, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
  • Subban knocking Guentzel on his donk is a major highlight of this game. See above comment about Guentzel.
  • Saros robbed Tom Kuhnhackl!!!!
  • Sissons destroyed Malkin in the corner and it was gorgeous.
  • Watson going with Reaves... the spark?
  • Incredible pressure by the Preds in the second. Craig Smith goals HAVE to happen soon.
  • Preds were the better team in the second...the scoreboard reflects otherwise.
  • JOFA is the only line with chemistry, but Hartnell-Aberg seems to have a little flash too.
  • Is McLeod going to fight every night?
  • I have nothing nice to say about Sidney Crosby. Plenty of bad blood here.
  • Classless Pens fans chanting “we won the cup” is pretty low.
  • Oh look, Crosby throwing cheap shots and getting away with it. Hartnell and Reaves get ejected. 48 penalty minutes in the third period is ridiculous.
  • Here’s hoping the Predators return the favor when Pittsburgh comes to Nashville in a few months. /

OTF Super Duper Stars of the Game

  1. Viktor Arvidsson: When is Arvi not a star? He hustles, he hits, he has incredible puck awareness and is always looking to make a play happen.
  2. Craig Smith:  He just keeps shooting the puck. Clearly snakebitten, Smith continues to put forth the effort to get back on track.

Tweets of the Night

Finally....we miss you, Fish.

Game Extras

Game Video