Matt Niskanen and the Pittsburgh Penguins spoiled Pekka Rinne's return from injured reserve with a 3-1 victory at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night.
The big question entering the game was surrounding Rinne and whether or not he would be prepared to play against such an elite team like the Penguins. However, those questions were answered early in the first period. Rinne's first save since October came off the stick of Jussi Jokinen on a one-timer 35 seconds in. A bit later, Rinne made the save of the night on a Chris Kunitz 2 on 1 scoring chance, keeping the puck out with an extended toe save.
Rinne made 16 saves.
At 16:46 of the first period, the Predators scored the go-ahead goal off the skate of Paul Gaustad — or so it appeared. After much deliberation between officials and a lengthy review, the goal was disallowed. The home town faithful were upset following the call. NHL.com's The Situation Room Blog had the explanation.
"…Video review determined that Nashville's Paul Gaustad kicked the puck into the Pittsburgh net. According to Rule 49.2 'A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net.' No goal Nashville."
After getting hit high on a dump 'n chase play by Robert Bortuzzo, an angry, bloody Colin Wilson seeked revenge and dropped the gloves with the Pens' defenseman with 24 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Watch below…
The aforementioned Niskanen scored his first of two goals of the night just 27 seconds into the second period. Sidney Crosby, who had three assists on 21:56 of ice time, setup Niskanen wheeling around the net. The shot snuck in between the glove and post.
However, that 1-0 lead was short lived.
Patric Hornqvist would score 12 seconds later to tie the game, once again. The lone Predators' goal would be essentially an own-goal, as Hornqvist slapped Olli Maatta's stick, making the puck enter the net off the Penguins defender's blade.
The number one power play in the NHL showed off their talents in the Music City. With the man advantage, Niskanen would score his second of the night at 7:29 in the third period with David Legwand sitting in the penalty box. The most rumored player in Nashville did not have his best performance as a Predator in what may be his final game with the team. Legwand, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will be on stand-by in-case he is traded on Trade Deadline Day Wednesday.
Hopes of a comeback was diminished with a foolish, retaliatory penalty by Legwand at 11:19.
Kunitz, who was robbed earlier in the evening, would get his goal to seal the win on the road with 2:55 left in regulation. An angry Shea Weber was given a 10-minute game misconduct and minor for unsportsmanlike conduct after shooting the puck down the other end in frustration.
The opportunities were there for both sides to put up more goals. Evgeni Malkin and Craig Smith traded off post-shots the entire game, each hitting the post twice.
|G||Per||Time||Str||Team||Goal Scorer||Assist||Assist||PIT on Ice||NSH on Ice|
|1||2||0:27||EV||PIT||2 M.NISKANEN(8)||87 S.CROSBY(52)||49 B.GIBBONS(6)||2, 4, 14, 29, 49, 87||6, 11, 15, 35, 57, 59|
|2||2||0:39||EV||NSH||27 P.HORNQVIST(12)||13 N.SPALING(13)||12 M.FISHER(17)||3, 18, 29, 36, 44, 71||4, 12, 13, 27, 35, 42|
|3||3||7:29||PP||PIT||2 M.NISKANEN(9)||71 E.MALKIN(43)||87 S.CROSBY(53)||2, 14, 18, 29, 71, 87||6, 24, 28, 35, 59|
|4||3||17:05||EV||PIT||14 C.KUNITZ(28)||87 S.CROSBY(54)||3, 14, 29, 44, 49, 87||6, 7, 21, 28, 35, 59|
My Three Stars
1. Matt Niskanen: 2 Goals
2. Sidney Crosby: 3 Assists
3. Patric Hornqvist: Goal
Line Up Report
Predators scratches: Clune, Bartley and Dubnyk
Predators starters: Bourque, Legwand, Smith, Weber, Josi and Rinne
Penguins scratches: Engelland, Martin and Letang
Penguins starters: Kunitz, Crosby, Gibbons, Niskanen, Scuderi and Fleury