NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It felt like a post-season win for Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby had two goals and an assist, setting up Kris Letang in overtime to send Pittsburgh to a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
“It felt more like April or May,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “Nashville had the lead three times in the first, second and third. Our guys kept responding.
“The determination we played with in the third to tie the game and then in the overtime was great. It was a pretty impressive hockey game in a lot of different areas. It was an outstanding hockey game on both ends. It was a pretty big game for October.”
Letang beat Pekka Rinne with a slap shot from the top edge of the left circle 3:49 into the extra period. Crosby, who tied it at three with his sixth goal of the season in the third, passed to Letang for the winning score.
“Tyler Kennedy took the puck wide and dropped it back to me,” Crosby said. “Letang did a great job of getting up in the play. I just found him. I don’t know where his shot went but he got a lot on it.
“”It was great to get the result we got. It was an intense game for two teams that don’t see each other very much. When you talk about Nashville and Pittsburgh there isn’t much of a rivalry. It was high-tempo game. Both teams were skating well.”
Bylsma pointed out that his team had been working on 4-on-4 situations in practice for most of the week.
“Sometimes 4-on-4 gets overlooked,” Bylsma said. “We spent some detail time in practice on it and it paid off for us on both offence and defence in overtime.”
Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, and Letang had two assists. Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves.
David Legwand, Cody Franson and Patric Hornqvist scored for Nashville, which has played three consecutive overtime games. Martin Erat had two assists.
Hornqvist gave the Predators a 3-2 lead with a wrister a little more than five minutes into the third but Crosby tied it at the 12:56 mark, beating Rinne with a slapshot from the left circle.
“It was hard to maintain Crosby and Malkin, there’s no question,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “We don’t get to see Crosby and Malkin very often, but when we do, up close and personal, they’re pretty dynamic.
“They are great players. Malkin and Sid can do things in small places. They made the plays they needed to make.”
Nashville jumped in front just 53 seconds into the game. Jordin Tootoo passed the puck to Legwand, who was stationed in front of the crease on the right side and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot.
Malkin tied it early in the second, scoring on a rebound of Mike Comrie’s shot.
Franson responded with a slapshot from high in the slot at the 8:03 mark that snapped a two-game power-play drought by the Predators.
Crosby has 11 points in his last eight games, including six goals. His wrister at 13:51 in the second went off of Rinne’s leg pads and into the net, tying it at two.
Trotz didn’t dwell on it, but he admitted not having Ryan Suter on defence made the game even more difficult. Suter has a lower body injury and is out for at least two more games.
“People don’t realize how good Ryan is,” Trotz said. “He is great skater. He can play forever. We miss him. There is no question.”
NOTES: Legwand’s goal was the second time this season the Predators have scored in the first minute of a game. They did not score in the first minute of a game last season.