By Jim Diamond
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) — The Nashville Predators took an
unorthodox route to end their five-game losing streak.
Defenseman Ryan Suter scored a power-play goal midway through
the third period to snap a tie and punctuate a comeback in which
the Predators erased a three-goal deficit en route to a 5-3
triumph over the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
Martin Erat, David Legwand and defenseman Greg Zanon each
recorded a goal and an assist and Jerred Smithson also scored
for the Predators, who netted just seven goals during their
slide and had not recorded more than three since November 28.
Captain Jason Arnott notched a pair of assists for Nashville.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Arnott said. “We have a long way to
go, and this isn’t the end of it, but it is something to build
on and get our confidence going.”
Petr Sykora, Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot scored and All-Star
Sidney Crosby registered two assists for the Penguins, who have
lost six of seven games and 12 of 17.
“You can’t cut corners, and for us, we didn’t play well enough
throughout the whole game,” Crosby said. “We didn’t deserve to
win the hockey game.”
Nashville claimed the lead for good at 9:04 of the third, when
Suter’s slap shot deflected off Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton
in the low slot before sailing past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
for his fourth goal of the season.
“When we got down early, we were on the bench wondering if
anything else could go wrong,” Suter said. “At the end of the
game, I couldn’t believe it – we were finally celebrating
Zanon sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.
Sykora opened the scoring with 5:42 left the opening period. In
the high slot, Crosby found Sykora in the right faceoff circle,
where he quickly corralled the puck and fired a wrist shot that
beat netminder Dan Ellis high to the stick side.
Staal and Talbot scored 21 seconds apart early in the second to
give Pittsburgh a seemingly commanding 3-0 lead.
However, Erat’s 10th goal of the season at 7:57 of the middle
session began a run of five unanswered tallies for the
Predators. Erat skated to the front of the net and lifted a
backhander over the glove of a diving Fleury to get Nashville on
“I think that is what can change the season for us,” Erat said.
“We were down and out in a five-game losing streak, and to come
back to win says something about this team.”
Less than six minutes later, Erat carried the puck down the left
wing and sent a pass to Legwand, who one-timed it by Fleury from
the low slot for his seventh goal.
“We were down 3-0, Marty got one, then we got another one on the
shorthanded goal. It was obviously a big lift,” Legwand said.
“It was a great pass by Marty, and it was nice to get a goal and
get back on the sheet.”
Smithson forged a tie with 55 seconds remaining in the period.
“If we would have been smart, we would have made better
decisions,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “Right now, we
find ways to always let the (other) team in the game. I am
Ellis allowed two goals on seven shots before being replaced by
Pekka Rinne, who made 17 saves.
“The only reason I did that was to try to change our luck and
slow things down for a second,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said
of making the goalie change. “It wasn’t anything about how
Danny Ellis played.”
“It feels great to battle back and get the win,” Rinne said.
“We’ve been playing well the last few games, and now it seems to
be paying off.”
The Predators outshot the Penguins, 30-10, over the first two