October 25, 2015
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Penguins have some major questions on the power play.
Like checking the NHL rulebook to see if they’re able to decline the penalty, seems like.
Scoring goals still hasn’t come easy. But, man, that goaltender. They have one of the NHL’s best right now. Maybe the best.
Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show Saturday at Nashville during a 2-1 win over the Predators.
Just some absurd numbers to come out of this one. Nashville had 70 shot attempts, 39 on goal. The Penguins had 42, 25 on goal.
Fleury stopped all but one.
In eight starts, Fleury has allowed 16 goals. Pretty impressive stuff.
“Right off the bat they came pretty hard at us. Got some pucks to the net. After that, I thought we settled down.
“The building gets pretty loud. They get behind them a lot. It’s fun to play a game here, but I’m glad we got two points at the end.”
=Some series stuff that I couldn’t fit into my game story:
The Penguins have won six of the past seven meetings with the Predators and four in a row at on the road. They haven’t lost here since Jan. 8, 2009. Nashville, meanwhile, suffered its first home loss of the season, as its three-game losing streak came to a close.
“It probably doesn’t feel as good as it should,” Chris Kunitz said of the win. “I don’t think guys know how good that team is. How good their goaltender is, how well their D move the puck and the speed play at.
“To come into their rink and play a hard-fought game, I know we’re struggling to score goals, but it feels really good to get a win.”
=Speaking of Kunitz, was all smiles afterward. You could tell he’s been putting a ton of pressure on himself to perform. And scoring a goal, his first in the regular season since March 29, 2015, felt pretty darn good.
I asked Kunitz to talk postgame. He was more than willing — most are following an overtime win — and I think he got a chuckle out of me saying something about him blasting the stuffing (I didn’t say stuffing) out of that puck.
“You want to help your team offensively,” said Kunitz, who has two goals in his past 29 regular-season games. “Hasn’t been going my way. Geno made a nice drop pass. Just tried to put a good shot on net. Found its way in.”
=The power play was ugly tonight.
The might actually be too kind of an assessment.
They generated two shots on a five-minute major and didn’t do much more on a minor penalty early in the second period.
Here was coach Mike Johnston after:
“The five-minute and the next power play after that, I just thought our loose-puck recovery in the offensive zone, how we came up with speed … they took away the drop pass. If they’re going to take away the drop pass, then we have to be able to react to it. We have two options on the power-play breakouts
“(We need to) go to the second option a little bit quicker. The five-minute power play, we didn’t get anything. They had a power play right after, they didn’t get anything. It seemed like both power plays weren’t giving the other team any momentum tonight. I think they’re probably saying the same.”
=There was also quite a bit of vitriol directed at Johnston on Twitter for not challenging James Neal’s goal. I can see why. Barret Jackman absolutely touched Fleury, and what in the world do you have to lose there?
Johnston didn’t challenge.
Said they didn’t think it was goaltender interference.
Here’s Johnston’s explanation when I asked postgame:
“We talked about it on the bench. I haven’t looked at it yet, so I’m not sure. We talked about it on the bench. We looked at it up top and inside. We didn’t feel at that time it was a challenge. I’ll have to look at it again.”
Fleury said Jackman absolutely touched him, though he didn’t “run him.”
“I couldn’t rotate and push the way I wanted to because he was right there,” Fleury said. “I don’t think the guy really ran me. Happened pretty fast. I was looking at the puck. It hit my face. By the time I found it, it was already on the stick.”
Be GRATEFUL to each other,