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Nature Gone Wild: Penguins Prey on Predators, 2-0



This was not the most entertaining game the Pittsburgh Penguins have played this season.

Not the most eventful, either.

Quite the opposite, really, on both counts.

But the two points the Penguins got for defeating Nashville, 2-0, at PPG Paints Arena Thursday night count just as much as any of the other 82 they’ve earned this season, which is all that really matters at this point.

The victory allowed them to retain sole possession of the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference playoff field; they lead Florida by one point and have a game in hand on the Panthers.

The Penguins also moved back within three points of the New York Islanders, who hold the first wild card and on whom the Penguins have a game in hand.

Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, appearing in his 200th career game and making his first start in four, made 28 saves to earn his 13th shutout in the NHL.

Nashville got the first power play of the evening, as Jake Guentzel was sent off for high-sticking Predators center Cody Glass in the offensive zone at 4:31 of the opening period.

The Penguins killed that minor, and actually got a good shorthanded chance, as Ryan Poehling rushed down the left side and drove to the net, but was unable to get a backhander past goalie Juuse Saros.

P.O Joseph was assessed a penalty for cross-checking at 7:35, but the Penguins made it through those two minutes unscathed, too. And then again generated — but failed to capitalize on — a good shorthanded opportunity, when Josh Archibald burst down the right side and got two shots from close range.

Saros came up with another quality stop 11 minutes into the period, rejecting a point-blank backhander by Jason Zucker to keep it 0-0.

The Pittsburgh Penguins finally got a chance with the extra man when Nashville winger Philip Tomasino tripping Evgeni Malkin at 16:25, to no avail.

They snuffed the Predators’ third power play after Brian Dumoulin was called for interference 16 seconds into the second period and received their second man-advantage at 6:15, when Nashville’s Luke Evangelista was caught holding.

Like all of those before it, that power play did not produce a goal. Not for a lack of effort by the Penguins, though, as they put eight shots on Saros during their first two power plays.

Jarry kept the Predators from grabbing a lead at 10:38, when he denied Kiefer Sherwood from the right hash.

The Penguins finally broke through at 14:15, when Dumoulin — yes, Dumoulin — demonstrated some excellent puck-control and stickhandling in the slot before sliding a pass to Zucker, who shoveled the puck past Saros from the left edge of the crease.

The second assist on that goal, Zucker’s 16th, went to Malkin.

Saros. who was outstanding throughout the game, kept Nashville within a goal by stopping Rickard Rakell during a 2-on-1 with about 12 minutes to go in regulation, and Jarry responded in kind about a minute later, when Tomasino broke in alone.

Jarry’s big-time save was rewarded with an insurance goal almost immediately.

Predators defenseman Cal Foote was called for roughing at 12:55, and just eight seconds later, Guentzel, stationed at the right side of the crease, put in a feed from Rakell for his 34th of the season.

Kris Letang picked up the second assist.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to practice at noon Friday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.