Glass sparks Penguins to win vs. Predators
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tanner Glass got rocked in Music City.
Glass was credited with five of the Penguins' 17 blocks — including a couple against howitzer-firing defenseman Shea Weber in the first period — to spark a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.
Glass was exactly what the Penguins, winless in three previous games and lethargic in an outdoor loss at Chicago on Saturday, needed to finally get going on a stretch run to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“We have big plans in this room, and if we're going to fulfill our goals and be the team we want to be, we've got to come through with an effort each night — and be better,” Glass said.
The Penguins (41-16-4, 86 points) killed four power plays, allowing only three shots. Sidney Crosby recorded three assists, and Chris Kunitz scored his 200th goal. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury challenged shooters and was rewarded with mostly sound, puck-clearing defense. Matt Niskanen scored his eighth and ninth goals.
The game belonged to Glass and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, though. Role players among a roster of stars, they were bruised (Glass) and bloodied (Bortuzzo) afterward.
“Commitment,” Fleury said. “When you see guys diving in front of those bullets, it's exciting.”
“We weren't happy with the way we have been playing,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
That changed late in the first period when the game was scoreless. Weber, whose shot was previously described by Bylsma as requiring courage to try blocking, had the puck positioned to fire away.
The first time, Glass positioned his upper body to absorb the puck. Weber's shot had so much velocity that it knocked the stick from his hand.
Weber found the puck and tried again. His next blast caught a kneeling Glass on the outside of his right leg. The game within this game was officially on, and Glass appeared to be sending a message to his weary teammates. He trailed Weber across the ice and witnessed a measurable victory for the cause of self-sacrifice.
Weber passed up two shot opportunities.
“We had three guys standing up on the bench,” Bylsma said. “At that point, it looked like Tanner was begging for Shea to shoot another one.”
“You feel it,” Glass said. “Nothing got me in a place without pads, but I feel like it did get me in a place without pads. It's heavy.
“You know, we've talked a lot about the type of team we want to be and the type of efforts we need to have. It's something where you see a guy do something like that and it can really spark our club. I'm happy to do it.”
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Wednesday, and general manager Ray Shero is pushing hard to improve some areas of need — specifically, bottom-six scoring, puck movement on defense and a replacement for injured Pascal Dupuis on the Crosby-Kunitz line.
The current players, though, believe that better will be achieved by simply playing harder.
They also know the look of sacrifice when they see it, whether it comes in the form of Glass' bruises or the stitched faced of Bortuzzo, who energized the Penguins with a fight against Predators center Colin Wilson also in the first period.
“He's been doing that all year for us,” Fleury said. “It was a great fight. He stood up to (Wilson). It was a good job by him. It's something we needed, I think.”