Penguins break losing streak, beat Predators, 4-1



The to-do list might not have been spelled out on one of the Penguins' many dry-erase boards, but the items were pretty obvious.

They addressed a good number of them, too, in a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators Friday night at Consol Energy Center.

"We did check off a bunch of things," coach Dan Bylsma said.

In essentially descending order of importance, they:

• Won a game, ending a three-game slide.

• Scored more than one goal, something they hadn't done in any of those three losses. In fact, their four goals were one more than their total from that streak.

• Scored three even-strength goals after getting none the previous three games.

• Got a goal from top-line right winger Pascal Dupuis, who ended a 12-game drought when he tied the score, 1-1, at 12:36 of the first period.

"It felt good," said Dupuis, who scored off of a faceoff play, a goal that started to turn the game in the Penguins' direction, although Dupuis thought the go-ahead goal is what really set the tone.

That capped a power play when James Neal, in front of Nashville goaltender Marek Mazanec, tipped in a hard shot from the center point by Evgeni Malkin for a 2-1 Penguins lead at 15:56 of the first period. Chris Kunitz also was in front of the net, screening Mazanec.

Sidney Crosby's pass to Malkin from the right side earned him an assist that gave him 25 points and sole possession of the NHL scoring lead.

"They got what we talked about -- a greasy goal. Two guys there screening him, and [Neal] gets the tip-in," Dupuis said.

The Penguins got second-period goals from Kris Letang and Brandon Sutter to pull away.

"I thought in the second [period] we really took over the game, shift after shift," Bylsma said.

One item not addressed was Malkin's goal-less streak. It reached 12 games, but he had two assists to run his streak of games with at least one assist to six and his season point total to 18 in 19 games.

"I don't think we'd be talking about it if we were winning games," Malkin's linemate, Neal, said. "When you start losing a bit, you're going to start pointing fingers. I think if you saw the way he's going to the net, the plays he's making and his passes are right on.

"Just because he hasn't scored for a few games doesn't mean he's not playing well. He's flying out there. He's making great plays. I think you underestimate his vision and how good his passing is."

Another area of concern for the Penguins still dogged them early, when they turned the puck over several times.

"Probably the first six minutes of the game, they carried [the play]," Bylsma said of the Predators, who were pressing for a win as they finished a seven-game road trip and, like the Penguins, had lost three games in a row.

"They are a hard forechecking team, and they certainly did that -- they came pretty hard at us," Bylsma said. "They ended up getting the lead in the game, but, after that, I thought our team played extremely well.

"To hold a team below 20 shots in a game, you're not giving up much, either."

Nashville got 18 shots, and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 17 of them for his 11th win.

The only one that eluded him took a circuitous route.

A shot by defenseman Kevin Klein from the right point glanced off of the stick of Malkin, off the skate of Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, somewhere off Predators winger Gabriel Bourque and under Fleury's pads for a 1-0 lead at 2:28 of the first period.

Bourque was credited with the goal.

"I saw the replay when they showed it in slow-mo," Fleury said. "It was crazy, just ding-ding-ding."

On the Dupuis goal, Sutter won a faceoff to Mazanec's right and got the puck to Matt D'Agostini, who fed Dupuis. The assist was D'Agostini's first point in a Penguins uniform.

Neal's goal was his first in his injury-shortened season.

Letang pinched in and converted a feed from Malkin, who was behind the net, for a 3-1 lead at 7:58 of the second period.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published November 15, 2013 9:33 PM

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