Predators exact revenge from Penguins in shootout
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — So what were Kyle Turris’ impressions of his first home game at Bridgestone Arena?
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “The crowd was real loud, there was a lot of energy in the building, and it was a pretty exciting game.”
The newest member of the Nashville Predators had a lot to do with the excitement level, scoring a goal and adding an assist as his team carved out a bit of revenge for last year’s Stanley Cup Finals loss with a 5-4 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kevin Fiala and Filip Forsberg tallied in the shootout for Nashville (9-5-2), which won its fourth straight game. Kris Letang had a chance to extend the shootout for Pittsburgh (9-7-3), but his wrister sailed wide right as the Penguins dropped to 0-5-1 in the second half of back-to-back games.
On a night abounding with storylines, Turris’ debut topped them all. Acquired from Ottawa on Sunday night as part of a three-way trade which also involved Colorado, Turris was billed as the second-line center the Predators have needed for years.
He did nothing to dispel that notion. No forward logged more even-strength ice time than Turris (20:20), and few were as dangerous from opening faceoff until the final horn to end overtime.
Just over five minutes into the game, Turris produced a Grade A scoring chance, but just missed wide right. At 2:01 of the second period, Turris gave the sellout crowd their first reason to erupt with a wrister from the slot that tied the game at 1.
In the third period, Turris fed Calle Jarnkrok and then provided a screen on Jarnkrok’s wrister past Tristan Jarry that gave Nashville a 4-3 edge at 4:46.
“He played well,” Forsberg said of Turris. “He scored a nice goal, fed Jarny and skated really well. I think he’s going to be a big factor for us.”
Whether they were inspired by their new linemate or just played well on their own, Fiala and Craig Smith were also dangerous. Fiala didn’t log a point but attempted six shots and used his speed well, while Smith potted his fifth goal on the power play at 5:29 of the second period and attempted eight shots, also adding the secondary assist on Jarnkrok’s goal.
Turris and his teammates had to be that good to hold off the Penguins, who overcame a 3-1 second-period deficit with solid work over the final 30 minutes of regulation.
Phil Kessel’s seventh goal at 12:27 of the second period off an Evgeni Malkin feed from behind the net cut the deficit to one. Jake Guentzel took advantage of a failed pinch by P.K. Subban to earn a breakaway and then beat Pekka Rinne with a backhander through the pads at 2:27 of the third period.
Following Jarnkrok’s marker, Brian Dumoulin deposited the tying goal on a wrister from the slot at 7:43, his first point of the season. Pittsburgh put 30 shots on net to the Predators’ 28 and also had more total attempts.
“When we got down, we just kept playing,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We kept trying to make the right plays and pay attention to detail. We found ways to get back into the game. If we keep playing like that, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Bryan Rust started the scoring with a short-handed goal for Pittsburgh at 11:58 of the first period, but the Penguins hurt themselves in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the second period.
After Turris’ goal, penalties by Jarry and Letang enabled Nashville to cash in twice with the man advantage in just 16 seconds. Subban scored three seconds into Jarry’s minor on a blistering one-timer at 3:52, followed by Smith’s goal.
The Predators’ recent surge has coincided with their ability to put more pucks in the net. They have scored 16 goals in the last four games after managing only 28 in their first 12.
Turris’ addition only figures to make this team more explosive.
“I think he showed his versatility with his ability to score goals and set up other people as well,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s difficult to jump in sometimes in your first game with a new team in a new home, but tonight, he was excellent.”
Rinne (8-2-2) made 26 saves and Jarry (0-0-2), starting his third NHL game, stopped 24 shots.
NOTES: Nashville sent C Frederick Gaudreau and LW Pontus Aberg to its AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Aberg is going on a conditioning assignment, meaning he can play up to 14 days and six games. ... Saturday night marked Pittsburgh’s sixth set of back-to-back games. The Penguins play an NHL-high 19 back-to-backs this season. ... Penguins scratches were D Frank Corrado and RW Josh Archibald. ... The Predators scratched D Anthony Bitetto and C Nick Bonino (ankle), who skated with the team Saturday morning and is close to returning to the lineup.