Pens down Predators, snap losing streak
The Penguins' stars showed up Friday, and the guy who still can't score received strong accolades from his linemate.
Evgeni Malkin failed to score for a career-high 12th consecutive game but was the dominant player in many ways as the Penguins easily handled the Nashville Predators, 4-1, at Consol Energy Center. The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Penguins, who play Saturday in New Jersey.
Right wing James Neal scored his first goal of the season, right wing Pascal Dupuis scored his first goal in 12 games, defenseman Kris Letang overcame illness and a recent funk to add his fourth goal of the season, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his 11th win.
Instead of discussing his goal — a perfect tip off a Malkin shot for a power-play goal — Neal spoke passionately about his center.
“I don't think we'd be talking about (Malkin's streak without a goal) if we were winning games,” said Neal, whose goal was the winner. “Whenever you start losing a little bit, you're going to start pointing fingers. If you see the way he's going to the net and making plays, his passes are really on.”
Malkin not only recorded the primary assist on Neal's goal, but he also set up Letang's goal in the second period. He also fed Neal in the second period, but the right wing, who has missed all but four games this season, was robbed by Marek Mazanec's glove save.
The rookie goaltender, though, was betrayed by a team on the road for a 17th day.
And the Predators looked every bit as weary as might be expected. They put up little fight, and the Penguins' stars simultaneously found their groove.
“We're doing it to ourselves,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We're probably not the most confident group right now, and it shows.”
There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with Malkin's confidence, at least not when he's setting the table for teammates. He has recorded the primary assist on four of the Penguins' past six goals.
“Just because he hasn't scored in whatever it is, doesn't mean he isn't playing well,” Neal said. “He's flying out there. He's making great plays. And I think people underestimate his vision and how great of a passer he is.”
While Malkin was in more of a distributing mood, Dupuis was looking for a goal to end his funk, and it didn't take long.
At the 12:36 mark of the first period, Dupuis evened the game when he buried a slap shot from the top of the left circle off afaceoff win.
“Yeah,” Dupuis said with a smile. “That one felt good.”
It felt good to the Penguins, too. They never looked back.
“You could feel the momentum change after we got that first goal,” said Fleury, who faced only 19 shots, three of which came in the third period. “The crowd got into it, and we were good the rest of the game.”
The stars were especially bright.
“It was a matter of time,” Dupuis said, “before we played 60 minutes like we want to play.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Feds to protect 20 coral species
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- Workers shaken by news Kittanning Foodland will close
- Parks woman accused of burglarizing house
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Arizona Uzi shooting that accidentally killed instructor ‘just stupid’
- South Buffalo planning commission signs off on revised gas compressor plan
- Leechburg Area replaces standout softball coach, who was cited for shoving student
- Fayette County parents charged with endangering children, cruelty to animals
- WPIAL coaches, QBs have concerns about using newly-approved footballs