-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. “The win’s important, but we need to play well in all facets of the game — specifically, defensively — and I think we did that.” - Tanner Glass.
-The Nashville Tennessean's recap. “I thought he was really good. Right off the bat, he makes that big save. Once he made that save, he was fine after that. He’ll only get better.” - Predators coach Barry Trotz on goaltender Pekka Rinne's return to the lineup.
-The Associated Press' recap. "You know it's coming hard and heavy. But [Glass] still goes and makes the save. My hat goes off to him." - Marc-Andre Fleury on Glass blocking several shot from Predators captain/defenseman Shea Weber.
-Mike Lange's goal calls.
-Rinne's save against Chris Kunitz deserves its own clip:
-Robert Bortuzzo vs. Nashville's Colin Wilson:
-A good look at the blood bout:
-Dan Bylsma speaks:
-Matt Niskanen speaks:
-“It’s tough. You just want to go out there and play and try not to worry about it too much. It’s a little tricky, but you try to stay focused and worry about my job. It’s kind of out of my control, so I just go out there and try to play.” - Brandon Sutter on being the subject of trader rumors.
-"I can't control any of that. Just play hockey, you know?" - Brian Dumoulin on being the subject of trade rumors.
-Happy 57th birthday to former Penguins forward Paul Gardner. Acquired before the 1980-81 season along with Dave Burrows in a deal which sent for Kim Davis and Paul Marshall, Gardner spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. In 1980-81, Gardner appeared in 62 games and scored 74 points. He also became the first player in franchise history to score four goals in a game in a 6-5 loss to the Flyers Dec. 13, 1980. During the 1981 postseason, Gardner played in five games and scored one goal. He followed that up in 1981-82 by playing in 59 games and netting netting 69 points including a team-leading 36 goals. Gardner also scored a then-franchise record 21 power-play goals. Gardner led the team in postseason scoring that spring by recording six points in five games. In 1982-83, Gardner saw action in 70 games and scored 55 points. Gardner was limited to 16 games and five points in 1983-84. In the 1984 offseason, Gardner joined the Capitals as a free agent. In 207 regular season games, Gardner scored 203 points, 39th-most in franchise history. In 10 postseason games, he scored seven points.
-Happy 33rd birthday to current Penguins defenseman Paul Martin. A free agent signing in the 2010 offseason, Martin has spent the past three seasons with the Penguins. In 2010-11, he appeared in 77 games and scored 24 points. During that spring's postseason, Martin saw action in seven games and recorded two assists. In 2011-12, Martin saw action in 73 games and collected 27 points. In three postseason games, he had one goal. Last season, Martin has played in 34 games and scored 23 points. He saw action in 15 playoff games and scored 11 points. This season, Martin has appeared in 33 games and has 12 points. In 217 games with the Penguins, Martin has 86 points, 99th-most in franchise history. In 25 career postseason games, Martin has 14 points.
-Happy 32nd birthday to former Penguins forward Michel Ouellet. A fourth-round pick in 2000, Ouellet spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2005-06, Ouellet appeared in 50 games and scored 32 points. While playing primarily on a line with rookies Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal in 2006-07, Ouellet set career highs in games played (73), goals (19) and points (48). In five postseason games that spring, he recorded two assists. In the 2007 offseason, Ouellet joined the Lightning as a free agent. In 123 regular season games with the Penguins, Ouellet scored 80 points, 101st-most in franchise history. He currently plays for the Thetford Mines Isothermic of the LNAH in Quebec.
-After the Jump: The trade rush starts a day early.
My NEC tournament advance in today's paper focused on Robert Morris' success over the past 3-4 seasons, but how that success hasn't translated to an NCAA tournament berth.
Since we've got limited space in the paper, I figured I'd delve into the statistics a little more here. Since the 2010-11 season, 207 college basketball teams from outside the sport's power conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12, SEC) do not have a single NCAA tournament appearance. Of those 207 teams, Robert Morris' 68-36 record is the fourth-best.
Here are the top 10 teams in that span who have never gone dancing.
|Stephen F. Austin||65-28||69.9|
|College of Charleston||69-34||67.0|
NOTE: I only included records from the 2010-11 season through the 2012-13 one. It's not really fair to include a team's record from this season if it hasn't been determined whether they'll make the NCAA tournament. Plus, with conference realignment, it would have been a little trickier to decide what qualifies as a 'power conference.'
A couple of things to take from this research:
1) This is not an indictment of Andy Toole
Postseason tournaments are kind of a crapshoot, so it's unfair to judge a coach solely based on how they fare in them. The much more accurate barometer of a coach's skill is the regular season record, which has been pretty good under Toole. As I noted in the story, he's already got a pretty loaded resume for a 33 year old; the NCAAs are just that one thing missing from it.
Tuesday, Toole said that a lack of tournament appearances is something that we in the media mostly focus on. I disagree with that -- fans, athletic directors and a number of others find it a big deal -- but in his case, it's not a black mark against him or anything.
2) It's a small sample size
This only takes a three-year period into account, so while it can give you some idea of what's gone on, the lack of a tournament appearance isn't something that's all-too-damning for Robert Morris. For other schools near it on the list, it is. Charleston, for example, hasn't made the tournament since 1999. If the Colonials have this kind of success the next three seasons and still haven't been back to the Big Dance, then you may have a problem.
The Duquesne women's basketball team opens the Atlantic 10 tournament at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Rhode Island, a rematch of Saturday's regular-season finale. The Dukes lost five of the last seven games of the season but got a really favorable draw in the tournament as the sixth seed.
If Duquesne (18-11, 10-6 Atlantic 10) defeats the 11th-seeded Rams, they would advance to face third-seeded Fordham (the other Rams) in the quarterfinals. The good news? The Dukes have beaten both of those teams twice, including once in the past two weeks. Even better: Duquesne is 6-2 against the five other teams on its side of the bracket.
I caught up with first-year head coach Dan Burt this afternoon to preview the tournament.
[... and check the end for an extra note.]
To start, what's your broad outlook on the tourney and your first season as head coach?
"In terms of the tournament, we like our draw because we've had success against the teams we've drawn. We like the fact that we have a game at 7:30 against Rhode Island, and if we can get the victory there we'll play again at 7:30 Friday. We're in a situation where things are repetitive and we can be in a groove. We don't know who we're going to play beyond Fordham, but we do like the draw we received.
"Overall on the season, I think we'd all say — from players down to coaches — that we're disappointed because we had so many double-digit leads that were not able to hold onto for a variety of reasons. In some ways we have a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouths, yet we still won 18 games. The mark of a good team is winning 20 games in a year. We're not at that point yet. Hopefully we'll get to that point and surpass it by the end of the season. But right now we've got a little bit of a bitter taste of our mouths from not closing out some games."
Is the silver lining in these last seven games that at least the two teams you beat are the first you'll see in the tournament?
"We match up well against the teams on our side of the bracket. Losing five of your last seven is never a good thing. You lose a game against St. Bonaventure where you're up 22 in the second half but you only get two baskets in the last 10 minutes. You're up 10 in the second half against George Washington. Those are very winnable games. And then the St. Joseph's game we lose on a buzzer-beater. You win two out of three of those and all of the sudden you're at .500 [over the streak] and up to 20 wins and you've got a couple top-50 wins there. A big part of that is we've not shot the ball well, and we've got to get our groove back there. We've got to get healthy. We're pretty banged up."
What would hitting that 20-win mark mean, this being your first season?
"A friend of mine, Pat Sullivan, who played at Chapel Hill and won a couple national championships as a player and as a coach and has been to many Sweet 16s — he's [an assistant coach] with Wizards now. He always said to me, 'If you win 20, it's been a good year.' To do that in my first year and tie the third-best mark in school history would be fantastic, but we're going to take it one game at a time. We're hoping to not only reach that 20-win mark but to surpass it. We have expectations that we're going to be playing for at least the next three weeks."
Back before the season began, you said Raegan Moore would surprise everybody, and now she's your second-leading scorer and was named third-team All-Atlantic 10. How did you know?
"Raegan's work ethic has always been consistent and very, very good, but she did even more so this summer and went the extra mile. It was really a confidence game with her. She's really developed confidence in her game and her abilities, and she knows the staff has a lot of confidence in her also. You get a player with that type of skill set and athleticism and add confidence, and they're going to have success."
I'd imagine this senior class is pretty hard set on finishing strong ...
"They have goals they want to reach, and they haven't met them yet. These next three weeks are going to be very important. They want to leave as the all-time wins leader by class, and they're three away from that. They want to play in the NCAA tournament, which is something no one has done here at Duquesne. It is entirely possible, because we do like our draw and we think we can get to the finals. Anything can happen once you get to the finals.
"They also have some individual goals to go along with some of the other team goals that they have. By no means are they satisfied. Wumi [Agunbiade] is as fresh as anybody on this team, from a mental standpoint as we go into the tournament. Wumi is not practicing very much because she's nursing some injuries, but I think that's only benefitting her because it's allowing her body to rest and heal."
[Note: The women's team has gotten little to no attention on here since I arrived — really no idea how it was before I got here. There are a few logical reasons for that, but excuses are weak. The women's team isn't one of my beats — for the curious, my beats are West Virginia football, Duquesne men's basketball and Robert Morris hockey. Our Pitt football writer Sam Werner covers the women's hoops in the area, but that spreads him out a bit over several programs, so in the future we'll work together to provide more content on the Dukes. My personal concern this first year is to make sure I don't drop the ball on my beats, but as I get more comfortable I'll be able to branch out and help fill gaps in our coverage.]
-It's trade deadline eve. We tend to stay away from all the speculation and rumors on this subject. It gets nauseating in trying to keep track of every little connection between Player A and Team B. We will have a full-blown chat for tomorrow but we'll indulge in trade talk a tad tonight.
-There has been a lot of talk about the Penguins and Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. With the Canucks moving goaltender Roberto Luongo today, it certainly seems like the Canucks are in a fire sale. Kesler controls his fate with a no-trade clause so if he were traded to the Penguins, he would need to approve it.
-We're not sure Kesler would benefit the Penguins that much. Presumably, he would replace Brandon Sutter on the third line as center and that would be a considerable upgrade but the wingers on that potential line would still be substandard. Ryan Kesler is much better than Brandon Sutter. But is Taylor Pyatt-Brandon Sutter-Joe Vitale all that much better than Taylor Pyatt-Brandon Sutter-Joe Vitale?
-The idea of bringing back a "three-center model" is nice. It certainly worked for the Penguins when Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were those three centers. But the key to that model's success was the third line center having sufficient wingers. A large part of Staal's success was his chemistry with Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Jarkko Ruutu.
-Sutter has certainly been underwhelming his his two seasons here. He definitely has another level or two he could hit but expectations of him must be tempered give the revolving door of substandard wingers he has been paired with this season. One could argue his best line this season came with Andrew Ebbett and Chris Conner, two AHL/NHL "tweeners," this season.
-Plan A for Sutter this season was Matt D'Agostini for heaven's sake. He's on plan L at this point.
-That's why we think the Penguins' biggest target should be bottom six wingers. They have a hole on the first line's right wing and on the blue line. But Paul Martin (and perhaps Kris Letang) will return at some point on defense. Additionally, Beau Bennett will be back at some point. Finally, Brian Gibbons has done his job as a fill-in on Crosby's right wing a higher level than Pyatt, Conner, Vitale or D'Agostini have on the third line wings. With the exception of Jayson Megna or Harry Zolnierczyk, there arent' any other internal options for those roles.
-That said, if he can upgrade those positions as well, Ray Shero should pursue it in any reasonable fashion.
-Make no mistake, the only standard for this team with Crosby and Malkin is the Stanley Cup. Anything short of that is failure. But don't dismiss the horrible timing of what has happened this season. The ONE year the salary cap has come down since it was insituted, the Penguins have lost their most talented defenseman - Kris Letang - to a stroke and a high-end backup goaltender - Tomas Vokoun - to blood clots. Add Those ailments and the implications they have on the salary cap and the fact that it decreased this season, that's a tough spot for Shero to operate in.
-Yadda, yadda about "excuses." That's just rotten luck.
-Long time EN reader Bernardo Mainou is in Nashville:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Brian Gibbons, Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Kris Letang and Paul Martin.
-The Predators' starters are Gabriel Bourque, David Legwand, Craig Smith, Roman Josi, Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne.
-Their scratches are Victor Bartley, Rich Clune and Devan Dubnyk.
19:40: Off a turnover by Scuderi from behind his own net, Weber snaps a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
19:25: Jussi Jokinen whacks a one-timer from the right circle. Rinne fights it off and smother the rebound.
18:17: A backhander by Eric Nystrom from the slot is kicked out by Fleury.
17:28: Rinne, playing his first game since Octiber, seems just fine. Crosby races up the right wing on a two-on-one with Kunitz against Weber. As Weber slides down, Crosby is able to tuck a backhanded pass around him to Kunitz coming in off the left wing. Kunitz jabs a shot on net and Rinne appears to be able to kick it out with his right skate. Wow!
16:52: Roman Josi blasts a slapper from the right point. FLeury boots it out.
15:57: Niskanen and Scuderi are teamed up while Orpik and Maatta are a pair.
15:36: Mike Fisher booms a slapper from the right wing. Fleury eats it up.
15:17: Orpik chops a slapper from the right half wall. Rinne eats it up.
12:53: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Neal has a chance in the slot but loses the puck on a poke check by Ryan Ellis.
11:59: A wrister by Crosby from above the left circle is deflected out of play by Josi.
10:11: The Penguins go to the power play as Simon Moser is called for slashing Malkin. That appeared to be a weak penalty. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Neal and Niskanen take the ice.
8:25: Off a cross-ice pass by Crosby, Malkin sweeps a one-timer from the right circle wide of the cage and off the end boards. The puck kicks out and is smothered by Rinne.
8:11: The Moser minor expires. Not much there for the Penguins.
7:57: Maatta rips a wrister from the right circle. Rinne fights it off.
6:55: A wrister by Niskanen from the right point is kicked out by Rinne.
6:00: Taking a pass at the blue line, Smith lifts a wrister from above the right circle over a diving Robert Bortuzzo. Fleury is late to react to the puck and it clanks off the cross bar and out.
5:54: Taking a pass in the right circle, Weber booms a big one-timer which Neal blocks. Ouch.
5:48: The rebound kicks back up ice and springs Kunitz on a rush up the left wing. He cranks a one-timer which Rinne eats up.
3:14: The Predators strike first. Nick Spaling rips a wrister from the right circle but has it blocked by Maatta's stick. It hits off the end boards. Spaling beats Maatta to the rebound and chops it on net. Fleury hugs the right post and fights off the puck with his chest. Gaustad crashes in on net by Chuck Kobasew and directs the puck through Fleury's five hole with the inside of his right skate. Gaustad crashes into Fleury as the puck hits the back of the cage. Officials rule a goal initially but consult a video review. After a lengthy delay, officials award the goal to Gaustad. There doesn't seem to be much on the video which would overturn the call but officials rule that it was kicked in. Wow. No goal.
2:27: Battling for a puck with Malkin, Del Zotto is crunched from behind into the left wing corner boards of the Nashville zone. Oof. Not a smart play by Neal, He even sort of threw his left arm. He heads to the penalty box. That's not the first time those two were involved on a dangerous hit:
-Neal gets a boarding minor. Del Zotto returns to the bench. Sutter, Craig Adams, Orpik and Scuderi take the ice.
1:35: After handing his stick to Orpik, Glass lays down to block a Weber slapper in the right circle. Oof.
1:24: Another slapper by Weber from thi gh slot is blocked by Glass again. Dang.
1:08: Orpik blocks a slapper by Josi in the right circle. Adams clears the rebound.
0:37: Bortuzzo stands up Colin Wilson with a stiff check at the Penguins blue line.
0:27: The Neal minor expires.
0:23: As play moves back up ice, Bortuzzo and Wilson are engaged in a fight. It's a pretty fierce but hardly spectacular fight. They mostly wrestle around and land a few punches in tight. Someone is cut but its not clear as there is blood on Wilson's visor. They fall to the ice. Bortuzzo heads to the bench in a huff. His helmet actually slipped down into his jersey. he pulls it out and slam it on the ice before heading back to the dressing room. Yeesh.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 0, Predators 0.
-The Penguins had a few solid offensive chances but not surprisingly, the were limited to the first two lines. That was another flat effort, on offense at least, by the bottom two lines.
-The first two defensive pairings have been switched around. Maatta is with Orpik while Scuderi is with Niskanen. Niskanen-Scuderi was used to some success this season when Letang missed the start of the campaign due to his knee injury. Maatta-Orpik is a relatively new development.
-We're not crazy about breaking up Niskanen-Maatta but the Penguins needed spread the wealth a bit with Martin and Letang injured.
-Tanner Glass is one person who wants to keep his job on the bottom six.
-The Penguins have an 8-7 lead in shots on net.
-The Predators have an 18-16 lead in attempted shots.
-Kunitz leads the game with three shots.
-None of the Predators has more than one shot.
-Weber leads the game with 9:01 ice time.
-Orpik leads the Penguins with 8:19.
-The Predators control faceoffs, 14-9 (61 pecent).
-Legwand is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Malkin is 3 for 7 (43 percent).
-Glass leads the game with three blocked shots.
-None of the Predators has more than one blocked shot.
19:33: Matt Niskanen to the rescue. Crosby picks up a loose puck in the left wing corner, skate sbheind hte net, fends off Legwand and deals a little pass to Niskanen. Niskanen sneaks down to the dot and cranks a one-timer behind Rinne. What an effort by Crosby. He gets an assist along with Gibbons. Penguins 1-0.
19:21: The Predators get one back immediately. Fisher whacks a one-timer from the right point. It rattles around after hitting a body or two. Neither Orpik nor Maatta can get a stick on the puck. Patric Hornqvist is able to sweep the rebound behind a sprawling Fleury. Spaling and Fisher get assists. Penguins 1, Predators 1.
19:12: Malkin pushes the puck up the left wing and lifts a wrister. Rinne snags it.
18:27: Simon Despres chucks a wrister from the right point. It hits a stick and deflects on net. Rinne fights it off.
17:21: Seth Jones rips a wrister from the right point wide of the cage.
17:01: Off a little feed by Gibbons, Kunitz booms a one-timer from the slot wide of the cage.
15:34: Despres grabs Spaling behind the Penguins net. That's two minutes for holding. That's his third minor in two games. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Scuderi take the ice.
15:02: Racing up the right wing, Weber cranks a slapper wide to the far side.
14:26: A wrister by Legwand from above the right circle is wide to the near side.
13:57: A one-time by Jones from above the right circle hits something and deflects wide.
13:41: Ellis chucks a wrister from center point. Fleury steers it away.
13:34: Despres' minor is killed with minimal threat from the Predators.
12:21: A wrister by Despres from the right point is blocked.
11:54: So close. Off turnover by Weber in his own zone, Neal deals a little feet do Malkin rips a wrister from the slot off the right post. Malkin hunches over in frustration.
11:46: A slapper by Victor Stalberg from above the right circle is deflected out of play.
11:36: Root Sports drops an Eddie Shack reference:
10:44: The Penguins get another power play and once again, Gibbons draws it. He's interfered by Del Zotto. That's the fifth penalty Gibbons has drawn in three games. Malkin, Neal, Crosby, Kunitz and Niskanen take the ice.
10:27: Short-handed, Malkin pushes the puck up the right wing one-on-one against Malkin who is playing defense. Malkin stands his ground ans trips the puck.
9:56: Kunitz chops a puck from the slot. Rinne gets a piece of it with his right leg.
9:32: Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the high slot. Gaustad blocks it and dives to poke the rebound out of the zone.
9:21: Off a cross-ice pass, Malkin leans down and puts a one-timer off the near post.
9:05: Malkin tosses a pass to the slot. Kunitz taps it on net. Rinne fights it off.
8:49: The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Jokinen will serve the minor.
8:44: Del Zotto's minor expires and Nashville gets a power play.
8:35: Smith sweeps a one-timer from the right circle off the near post.
7:42: Jones slams Orpik to the ice with a reverse hit in the left wing corner.
7:09: Weber booms a one-timer from the center point. Fleury gets a piece of it despite traffic.
6:43: Gibbons clears the puck down ice as time expires. He ends up icing the puck.
5:58: Jokinen is skating with Crosby and Kunitz. According to Root Sports' Bob Errey, Gibbons went to the dressing room.
4:59: A wrister by Spaling from the right circle is kicked out by Fleury.
4:11: Nystrom jabs a wrister from the high slot wide to the right of the cage.
3:19: A backhander by Bortuzzo from the left point is blocked by Weber.
3:13: A wrister by Smith from the slot is blocked by Bortuzzo.
0:01: After a few stagnant minutes, Malkin whips a wrister wide of the cage from the left circle.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Predators 1.
-Things really bogged down that period after a fast start. Each team buttoned things down and made it tough for each other offensively.
-Brian Gibbons had solid twenty minutes with a secondary assist and a drawn penalty.
-Neither team's power play has been all that sharp.
-The Penguins have a 12-11 lead in shots on net.
-The Predators have a 32-30 lead in attempted shots.
-Weber leads the game with 18:48 of ice time.
-Orpik leads the Penguins with 15:46.
-The Predators have a 24-22 lead in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Crosby is 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Legwand is 6 for 10 (60 percent).
-Glass leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Bourque and Weber each lead the Predators with two blocked shots.
17:28: Pushing the puck around the offensive zone on a nice individual effort, Cullen rips a wrister from the right circle, Fleury kicks it out with his right leg. Gaustad jumps on the rebound but can't beat Fleury.
16:15: With Chuck Kobasew getting a shift on the top line, Kunitz whacks a one-timer from the right wing. Rinne steers it away.
15:04: Jones pushes the puck up the right wing and has a wrister blocked out of play by Despres.
13:13: Kunitz pushes the puck up the right wing and flings a backhander wide of the cage. Play is blown dead. Legwand is called for Kunitz. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Niskanen take the ice.
12:32: Niskanen fumbles a puck at the left point of the attacking zone. It skids down ice to the penguins' zone. FLeury races out of the net and pokes it away from an on-rushing Gaustad. They collide a bit and take a tumble. Fleury is able to recover and play th epuck away from Nystrom. That allows the Penguins to play it back up ice. Eventually, Malkin taps a feed from the right half wall to Niskanen above the left circle. Niskanen tees up a one-timer which blows by Rinne and hits twine. The Penguins celebrate and Niskanen points at Fleury back down ice. Fleury has a you-know-what-eating grin on his face and waves back. What a crazy sequence. Malkin and Crosby get assists. Penguins 2-1.
11:58: Off a feed by Taylor Pyatt, Jokinen whacks a one-timer from deep on the right wing wide to the near side.
10:49: Kunitz is out with Vitale and GIbbons.
9:39: Moser chops a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury kicks it out. Niskanen is called for holding Gaustad in front of the net. Sutter, Scuderi, Orpik and Adams take the ice.
9:29: Josi booms a slapper from the right point wide to the far side.
9:12: A wrister by Legwand from the right circle is kicked out.
9:09: Battling for the rebound, Orpik drops Legwand hard in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone. Orpik might have gotten away with that one.
8:42: The great Joe Vitale chips and chases a puck up the right wing and is cross checked to the boards by Legwand. That's two minutes for interference. We'll have four-on-four play for 1:02.
7:39: The Niskanen minor is killed. The Penguins will have a five-on-four power play for 58 seconds.
7:12: Neal tries to jam in a backhander from the left of the cage. RInne holds it out.
6:42: Legwand's minor is killed. Back to five-on-five. The Penguins didn't really do much with that brief power play.
5:52: Off a feed from Jones, Del Zotto booms a slapper from he left point wide of the cage.
5:15: Sutter lifts a wrister from the left circle over the cage.
4:48: A slapper by Ellis from the right point is blocked by a diving Glass.
4:18: Ellis has another slapper from the right point blocked by Glass' skate.
4:11: Neal muscles the puck up the right wing and punches a wrister wide.
3:17: Off a drop pass by Moser. Weber cranks a one-timer from the right circle off the far post. Yeesh.
2:55: Game. Set. Match. Settling a puck in the left circle, Crosby slides an easy pass to Kunitz in the slot by the glove hand of Weber. What a powerful shot. Crosby gets the only assist. Afterwards, Weber has a few too many words with officials and is given and unsportsmanlike conduct minor and a 10-minute misconduct. Not sure what he did exactly. Wilson will serve the minor. The Penguins get a power play. Neal, Maatta, Malkin, Niskanen and Crosby take the ice. Penguins 3-1.
2:05: A considerable "Let's Go Pens!" chant echos around Bridgestone Arena.
0:35: Rinne is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:20: Ooof. Crosby coasts up the right wing and centers a pass to Glass who has a wide open net but ends up hitting both posts with the puck. How did he manage that?
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Predators 1.
-Getting a win in general was good. Getting the game's first goal for the first time in seven contest was even better. But the best part of this 3-1 win tonight was how it was earned. This was a playoff-style game which featured some strong defense by both teams. The Penguins just waited this out until opportunities presented themselves and took this game.
-Yes, the Predators don't have an overly dynamic offese and the Penguins got luck with a few shots off the post by Nashville shooters, but this was an impressive defensive effort by the Penguins have been reeling in the absences of Paul Martin and Kris Letang.
-Matt Niskanen steeped up in their absence. He came though with two impressive goals including his sixth game-winner of the season. Where would this team be this season without Niskanen?
-Tanner Glass is certainly aware of what may happen tomorrow at the trade deadline and his play displayed that. He put his body though quite a bit tonight blocking shots from some of the best point shots in the NHL in Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Tanner Glass wants to stay on this team.
-Once again, this game turned into a special teams battle. There were nine total power plays. In the Penguins' three games since the Olympic break, there have a total of 27 power plays (9.0 per game). In their 58 pre-Olympics games, there 366 power plays (6.3 per game). Again, we wonder if the NHL has issued an edict to officials to call more penalties.
-The Penguins mixed and matched their lines and defensive pairings a fair amount tonight for varioius reasons. We're not sure if it really accomplished much. That said, it seemed like Rob Scuderi benefitted a bit by playing with Niskanen once again.
-We're still on board with Brian Gibbons being on the top line. He had a few little plays which helped the Penguins create a few offensive chances and he even drew a penalty which led to a power play. That's the fifth penalty he has drawn in three games.
-Evgeni Malkin was snakebit tonight. He hit a few posts. He had a pretty solid game in terms of creating offensive chances.
-Once again, the bottom six forwards didn't offer much in terms offense. We did like the efforts of Brandon Sutter, Craig Adams, the great Joe Vitale and Glass on the penalty kill however.
-Chuck Kobasew, a day removed from being put on waivers, got a handful of shifts with Crosby and Chris Kunitz and looked like he was shot out of a torpedo tube. He certainly appeared motivated.
-Simon Despres did not help his case with the coaching staff by taking another penalty. His ice time was evident of that. He had a respectable amount of shifts at 21 but he was limited to an average of 35 seconds per shift.
-For a guy who has been sidelined for several months, Pekka Rinne looked pretty good. He stole a few goals and did more than enough to help his team win.
-Shots on net were even, 19-19.
-Nashville has a 43-41 edge in attempted shots.
-Chris Kunitz led the game with seven shots.
-Gabriel Bourque led the Predators with three shots.
-Josi led the game with 26:37 of ice time.
-Niskanen led the Penguins with 23:36.
-The Predators had a 33-32 advantage in faceoffs (51 pecent).
-David Legwand was 9 for 13 (69 percent).
-Crosby was 12 for 22 (55 percent).
-Glass led the game with five blocked shots.
-Weber led the Predators with four shots.
-Niskanen increased his franchise record for defensemen for game-winning goals in a season to six. The NHL record for game-winning goals by a defenseman is seven and is shared by Boston's Ray Bourque, St. Louis' Al MacInnis, Colorado's Derek Morris and Calgary's Dion Phaneuf.
-Niskanen also set a new career-high for points in 37.