PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins started shooting. And they kept shooting but Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne kept stopping them. The Penguins didn’t score until their 41st shot on goal with under two minutes remaining. Rinne made every other save as the Penguins failed to chop their magic number to two points and pull within one point of the division lead as they lost to Nashville 3-1 at PPG Paints Arena, Friday night.
The Penguins looked like a juggernaut in the first period. They wristed, slapped, pitchforked, jammed and poked 22 shots on Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne including seven shots on one power play.
“We did some things to give ourselves a chance to win,” Sidney Crosby said. “Special teams ended up being a big difference. We had a couple power play looks we didn’t take advantage of. They took advantage of theirs.”
However, Nashville had the only goal in the first period. Just over one minute into the game, a familiar problem bit the Penguins. After their second line with Phil Kessel failed to advance the puck much past the red line despite a couple of chances, Nashville counterattacked. Craig Smith (15) raised his arms in celebration after he perfectly deflected Roman Josi’s point shot.
Murray was hard on himself over the first goal.
“It’s tough. I definitely could have played it a little better. I over-shifted and (Craig Smith) made a nice play,” Murray said.
Nashville got the only goal in the second period, too.
After the Penguins squandered a pair of power play chances without much of a setup, Penguins rookie was on the wrong end of a game management call. With about three minutes remaining in the middle period, Blueger got the hook for interference. Nashville winger Victor Arvidsson (32) lit the lamp from the left wing circle.
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who never before allowed less than three goals at PPG Paints Arena (regular season and playoffs) was spectacular. He gobbled up 31 shots through two periods. The Penguins continued zipping shots in the third period, too. However, Rinne seemed to get bigger as the game got longer. He stopped 42 of 43 shots. Rinne had never won in Pittsburgh, regular season or playoffs (0-6) until Friday.
PK Subban (8) scored the traffic-maker goal with two and a half minutes remaining in the game as the Parkways filled with Penguins fans.
Down 3-0 and with the extra attacker, Nick Bjugstad finally got the Penguins on the scoreboard. He poked Phil Kessel’s rebound into the net, but it was too late.
The Penguins line centered by Bjugstad was again a powerhouse but failed to score. The line attempted 12 shots and yielded only 4.
Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 11. He played over 15 minutes in his return and had five shots on goal.
Murray was also solid for the Penguins but was upstaged by Rinne. Murray stopped 23 of 26 shots.
The Penguins power play was 0-4 but generated 15 shots on goal. Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby each had four shots with the man advantage. Hornqvist led all players with six shot on goal.