NHL Hockey

2
Final 1 2 3 OT SO Tot
Pittsburgh 0 1 0 0 1 2
Nashville 0 0 1 0 0 1
1
5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ET21:00 BRT, March 21, 2019
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee  Attendance: 17,729

Penguins aim to halt three-game winless streak versus Predators

Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators

  1. Since the 2010-11 season, Pittsburgh has gone 9-2-1 and averaged 3.25 goals against Nashville. Both of these are the best marks by any team against the Predators over that span.
  2. Viktor Arvidsson's 22 goals since the New Year are tied with Leon Draisaitl for most in the NHL. Jake Guentzel sits alone in third place with 21 goals since January 1.
  3. Wayne Simmonds and Brian Boyle, two of Nashville's midseason additions, scored two of the Preds' three goals in their last game. The two have scored 13 and nine career goals against Pittsburgh, respectively, more than any active player on Nashville's roster.
  4. Sidney Crosby has tallied 1.40 points per game against the Predators over his career, tied with Johnny Gaudreau and Peter Forsberg for the highest scoring average against the franchise all-time (min. 10 games).
  5. Pittsburgh has lost three straight games and scored four combined goals following a three-game winning streak in which the team scored at least four goals in each win. The Penguins' 11 overtime and shootout losses this season are fourth most in the NHL.
  6. Filip Forsberg, who has scored in two straight games entering tonight, has never scored a goal in nine career games against the Penguins. They are one of three teams against which Forsberg has never netted a goal (Golden Knights, Senators).

The Nashville Predators have eyes on the Central Division title, even as they step out of their conference Thursday to host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nashville (42-27-5, 89 points), which sits second in the Central, has won three straight games and is 5-2 since a loss March 1 to Winnipeg, the team the Predators are chasing for a division title.

"To be honest, I think guys are just starting to work harder as a team," Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "Everyone. All five guys on the ice. ... As you get into playoffs, everyone is going to have to do the little things, whether it be blocking shots, good stick lifts, taking hits to make plays. Whatever it is, everyone's got to do it. I think the last three games have been a good sign of that."

Most recently, the Predators topped the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 Tuesday behind Pekka Rinne's 22 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

"I think we're starting to jell," said winger Wayne Simmonds, who was acquired from Philadelphia in a Feb. 25 trade, one of several recent additions, along with Brian Boyle, Cody McLeod and Mikael Granlund.

"I think for us, we just needed to jell. I think we've had a little bit of time. We've had some practice time together. I think we're only going to continue to get better."

Simmonds notched his first goal since the trade Tuesday, in his ninth game with the Predators.

"I thought I was never going to score again," he said.

Rinne deflected credit for the win over the Maple Leafs.

"Really good defense," he said.

That's something Pittsburgh (39-24-11, 89 points) could use, particularly late in games.

In what began a disturbing trend for them, the Penguins allowed a late goal and then lost in overtime Feb. 23 in an outdoor Stadium Series game against Philadelphia.

Starting with that collapse, Pittsburgh has allowed six goals in the final three minutes of regulation. The most recent example came Tuesday, when the Carolina Hurricanes scored a tying goal with 1:56 left and then won 3-2 in a shootout.

"We'd like to think we can defend leads better," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We have in the past and for a long time, and been very good at it. I know we're capable."

The loss Tuesday left the Penguins 0-1-2 in their past three game. They also gave up a late goal and lost in overtime Sunday, again against Philadelphia. That's four critical lost points in four days as they try to clinch a playoff spot and perhaps gain home ice for at least the first round of the playoffs.

They are two points behind the second-place New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division and two points ahead of the Hurricanes, who hold the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders have played one fewer game than Pittsburgh and the Hurricanes have two games in hand.

There hasn't been one recurrent breakdown tying the late goals together.

"There's not a trend, I wouldn't say," Penguins goaltender Matt Murray said. "Each time there's been one little mistake. I have to make a save. That's pretty much what it comes down to."

There has been a trend in the situation, however. Seven times, second-most in the NHL, Pittsburgh has given up a goal with the opposing goaltender pulled for a sixth attacker.

"It's definitely something we need to work on, especially in these tight games," defenseman Jack Johnson said. "There's going to be goalies pulled in tight games like this down the stretch and throughout the playoffs. We need to improve on that."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 20, 2019

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