Originally written on Fang Faction  |  Last updated 3/22/12

Nashville Predators 1 vs Pittsburgh Penguins 5

The Nashville Predators continue to lose in the playoff hunt. There are now only eight games remaining, and it is time to start winning. The Pittsburgh Penguins completely stomped on the Nashville Predators tonight. 

No one looked good out there for the Predators. There were some spurts of good play, but nothing great. Pekka Rinne continues to just plain out suck! The defense has been terrible. Jack Hillen doesn't know what position he plays, if it is forward or defense! Ryan Ellis needs to be back in Saturday night, no question. Awful play will give you awful results.

Now that the Nashville Predators have lost another game, they are now barely holding on to the 5th spot in the Western Conference. The Detroit Red Wings have jumped them, and they have been playing bad as well, and the Chicago Blackhawks are right on their bumper.

Let me be honest with you. If the Predators don't get their act together, they will be facing a possible Canucks or Blues team in the first round and most likely, elimination. This is not Nashville Predators hockey and this is not playoff hockey.

Tonight, the Nashville Predators were completely embarrassed, once again, on national television.

Alexander Radulov Returns

Alexander Radulov had a rough first period. He had to get used to the play of the speedy, Pittsburgh Penguins. Radulov was a -1 after the first period, as he was on the ice for the second Penguins goal by Pascal Dupuis. 

Radulov had one impressive play in the later part of the first, when he was behind the Pittsburgh net with the puck. He controlled and waited for Suter to crash from the point. The shot by Suter was blocked, but a great show of confidence by Alex.

I also noticed that Radulov went straight towards Fluery to screen him. He probably did that because, A.) He didn't want to mess up the rhythm,  B) Wasn't fully prepared to skate, so parked himself in front, and/or C) To just screen him because that is what Barry Trotz wanted.

Radulov had seven shifts in the First Period. The times were, 0:42, 0:45, 0:25, 0:49, 1:07, 0:18 and 1:02.

Alexander Radulov had an eventful second period. Early on, he was on the ice for the third Penguins' goal scored by Matt Cooke. Although, that goal had nothing to do with him. Francis Bouillon turned the puck over, while they were trying to break-out. Radulov was where he needed to be during the break-out, along the boards at the blueline. There was another goal scored on him, but I think that goal was weak for Pekka Rinne.

Later that period, Radulov scored his first goal for the Predators, in his first game! Alexander was in the slot, just under the hash-marks. Hal Gill received the puck at the point, and he took his shot. The Gill shot was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury, but a juicy rebound was left for Alexander Radulov. He was able to slap the puck into the back of the net to get the goal. 

Radulov had six shifts in the Second Period with times of 1:19, 0:44, 0:28, 0:22, 0:59 and 0:56. Radulov finished the second period with a -1.

Alexander Radulov and the Nashville Predators started the third period strong. Mainly because Crosby was in the box and Nashville was on the power play. He stood in front of Fleury, and deflected a shot from the point. Unfortunately, the deflected puck hit Fleury in the arm.

It looked like Radulov had enough and went from the neutral zone straight to the left circle of Fleury. Alex took a weird, but dangerous, shot on net. He attempted to go 5-hole, but that was a no go.

Alex Radulov had one last play to set himself in the Predators line-up. Hornqvist entered the zone and passed Radulov cross-ice. Radulov saw Legwand crashing the net, so he passed to the crashing Legwand. David Legwand hit the puck off the post. Devastating!

Radulov had six shifts in the Third Period with times of 0:54, 1:08, 1:00, 1:00, 0:51 and 1:05.

Alexander Radulov didn't have an awful game tonight. It was decent. I am giving him B- for his first game. He scored a goal in his return, which was a huge sigh of relief for many Smashvillians tonight. Although, he will have to work on his defensive assignments because being on the ice three time when a goal is scored just can not happen. We were told that Barry Trotz would monitor his ice time and possibly limit it. Tonight, I felt he played a good amount against a fast team like the Penguins. 

Here is Alexander Radulov's stats of the night.

Name G A +/- SH TOI A. Radulov 1 0 -2 2 15:54

Rinne's Tough Games

Pekka Rinne continues to play bad, as he gave up five goals tonight. I don't know what is wrong with him, but he has not been himself lately. It could be over-playing, head isn't in the game, an injury that we don't know about, or the defense has just been sucking lately. 

The first goal scored by Evgeni Malkin, shouldn't have gone in. Malkin shot the puck and deflected off of Rinne's glove into the back of the net. His glove side has just been terrible as of late. That is very unusual because his glove has been freaky good. Rinne gave up a goal Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers off a rebound, that went off of his glove. 

It should be interesting how Pekka Rinne will play Saturday night in front of all of Canada, against the Winnipeg Jets. For the first time this season, that wasn't a back to back night, there will be question as to who will start in net for the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne or Anders Lindback? You decide.

Line Up Report

Starting Goalies:

Name SV SH Decision SV % TOI #35 Pekka Rinne 18 23 L .783 60:00 #29 Marc-Andre Fleury 29 30 W .967 59:57

Predators Scratches: #23 W Brian McGrattan, #24 W Matt Halischuk, #28 C Paul Gaustad (Upper Body), #33 C Colin Wilson (Groin), #49 D Ryan Ellis and #72 W Jack Maclellan

Penguins Scratches: #6 D Ben Lovejoy, #15 C Dustin Jeffrey, #25 C Eric Tangradi, #46 C Joe Vitale (Shoulder) and #1 G Brent Johnson (Undisclosed)

Period By Period Summary

First Period

  • 1:23 in, Evgeni Malkin scored from the right circle on Rinne, as Malkin's shot was deflected off Rinne's glove and trickled into the net. 1-0 Pittsburgh.
  • 4:06 in, Kris Letang from the point shot on net, but Pascal Dupuis got the deflection for the goal. The shot went in between Rinne's left arm. 2-0 Penguins.
  • 11:59 in, former Predator, Steve Sullivan had a chance of scoring, as he received a pass from Sidney Crosby from behind the net. Rinne was able to stop it, barely.
  • 12:37 in, Tyler Kennedy rang his shot off the pipe.
  • 17:05 in, Kevin Klein had a great chance to score as he rapped around the net to shoot. His shot created a scrum in front for the battle of the puck. Fleury was layed out, and was able to keep the puck out of the net.
  • 19:01 in, Shea Weber went to the box for interference. Weber hit a Penguin in front, who didn't have the puck. His penalty carried over to the 2nd.
  • 19:27 in, Evgeni Malkin went to the box for tripping David Legwand. That penalty made it 4 on 4 hockey. His penalty carried over to the 2nd.
  • The 1st period ended with Pittsburgh leading, 2-0 off a quick start to the game. Nashville got their legs later on, and generated a few chances in the final several minutes of the period. Nashville out-shot Pittsburgh, 9-8.

Second Period

  • 0:39 in, Kris Letang went down to the locker room to be examined. Martin Erat accidentally hit him as they ran into each other.
  • 1:01 in, Shea Weber's penalty was killed. Power Play went to Nashville.
  • 1:27 in, Evgeni Malkin's penalty was killed. Back to 5 on 5 hockey.
  • 1:58 in, Francis Bouillon turned the puck over in the Nashville zone to James Neal. Neal and Matt Cooke went on a 2 on 0, as Neal passed to Cooke, with an open net, to make it 3-0 Pittsburgh.
  • 2:43 in, Nick Spaling had a whole open net to score, but he couldn't get his stick on the puck.
  • 7:35 in, Chris Kunitz entered on Rinne's right, as he shot 5-hole, and he scored to make it 4-0 Pittsburgh.
  • 9:40 in, Barry Tortz called his only Time-Out to rest the players after a very long shift.
  • 11:20 in, Ryan Suter's shot from the point went on net, as Fleury got a piece of the puck. The puck was on the red line and just stayed there. It was that type of night for the Nashville Predators.
  • 12:01 in, Alexander Radulov scored off a rebound from Hal Gill. A lot of net to score in, and he capitalized. Nashville cut the lead to 4-1 Pittsburgh.
  • 19:04 in, Sidney Crosby went to the box for high-sticking. Francis Bouillon embellished that call, but the Predators would take it. His penalty would carry over to the third period.
  • At the end of the second period, the Penguins led, 4-1. Nashville out-shot Pittsburgh through 2 periods, 19-16.

Third Period

  • 1:04 in, Sidney Crosby's penalty that carried over to the third, was killed off.
  • 2:03 in, Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal of the game. Malkin was alone, with Gill coming on, and lasered the shot over Rinne's blocker. That goal happened because Jack Hillen bailed on his defensive positiong to help an offensive rush.
  • 17:52 in, Hornqvist passed to Radulov, who passed to Legwand, who shot the puck off the post.
  • The game ended with the Penguins winning, 5-1. Nashville out-shot Pittsburgh, 30-23.

Scoring Summary

Evgeni Malkin - Neal and Letang at 1:23 in the 1st
Pascal Dupuis - Letang and Sullivan at 4:06 in the 1st
Matt Cooke - Neal at 1:58 in the 2nd
Chris Kunitz - Neal and Orpik at 7:35 in the 2nd
Alexander Radulov - Gill and Hornqvist at 12:01 in the 2nd
Evgeni Malkin (2) - Neal and Kunitz at 2:03 in the 3rd

Pittsburgh Penguins Players to Watch:

Name G A +/- TOI #71 Evgeni Malkin 2 0 2 19:33 #18 James Neal 0 4 4 17:04 #87 Sidney Crosby 0 0 1 19:02

My Three Stars of the Game

1. Evgeni Malkin: 2 Goals & 10 Shots
2. James Neal: 4 Assists
3. Marc-Andre Fleury: 29 Saves

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