Nashville Predators @ Pittsburgh Penguins Preview: Closing The Decade With A Revenge Game?

It’s way too hot for a Penguin to just be winning back to back.

Nashville Predators

Prior to last night, the Predators had entered the holiday break on a 4-0-1 streak, but that came crashing to a halt.  In Nashville’s final home game of the decade, Nashville allowed a quick goal, which Craig Smith promptly answered, but Pekka Rinne allowed two more shortly after and was pulled in the first period.

Nashville went into the intermission down 3-1, but injuries to Colton Sissons (lower-body injury), and Dan Hamhuis (upper-body injury) left the team with a short bench. The Penguins scored two more prior to fights by Mattias Ekholm and Matt Irwin in the third period, with the former receiving a game misconduct, leaving Calle Järnkrok to take shifts as a defender.

Nashville did score right after that thanks to a Viktor Arvidsson redirect of a Roman Josi shot, bringing the captain to a career-tying six-game point streak, but despite another attempt on the power play, the Predators were largely lifeless and finished the game 5-2.

It’s yet to be seen if Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros will get the start tonight, while there’s a strong chance Nashville could insert the recently-recalled Colin Blackwell and Jarred Tinordi into the lineup.  Head coach Peter Laviolette had reunited the Matt Duchene–Filip Forsberg–Mikael Granlund line, but we may see his patented Line Blender back in effect after the embarrassing effort in front of the home crowd.

Pittsburgh Penguins

See above.  The Penguins dominated for nearly the entire game from the outset, including two in 34 seconds to break the 1-1 tie, and never quite looked back against a Nashville team playing their second goalie, down two players, and with a forward playing defense following a game misconduct.

Pittsburgh’s top line of Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel has performed admirably without captain Sidney Crosby, including a goal and two assists last night against Nashville.

Matt Murray, who has been reduced to a backup role with Tristan Jarry performing extremely well, will likely get the start, which may come as a relief for the Predators.

How to Win This Game

  • Defense - Pekka Rinne let in some very easy goals, but the defense in front of him was absolutely awful.
  • Goaltending - Rinne gave up three goals before being pulled, and Saros allowed two more.  They have to be better.
  • Shot Quality - Nashville hovered around 0.042 expected goals per unblocked shot, while Pittsburgh had a much better 0.067 expected goals per unblocked shot. Even worse, the Penguins averaged 0.114 xG/shot in the first period alone, and Nashville never recovered./

Last Game’s #FancyStats

Song of the Night

Sometimes you need something to amp you up.  Don’t worry, kids—it’s the clean version.

Where to Watch

As always, you can watch the local broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee or ESPN+, or listen to the game on 102.5 The Game.  Puck drop is set for 6 PM Central Time.

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