PITTSBURGH -- Four different players scored goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they coasted to a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday.
Both teams entered the game mired in three-game losing streaks. Nashville had been outscored 13-1 in its previous three games, while Pittsburgh managed to score just three total goals in its previous three games.
For Nashville, the game marked the end of a franchise record tying seven-game road trip. For the Penguins, it was the second game of a streak of 11 games in 18 days.
The Predators got the scoring going early, tallying just 2:28 into the contest with a little puck luck. Defenseman Kevin Klein fired a shot from the point that wildly pin-balled off Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin's stick, off of Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta's skate to Nashville left winger Gabriel Borque's skate, through the five hole of Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, off the right post and finally into the Pittsburgh net.
The Penguins got good pressure on their first power-play opportunity of the game, but did not score. However, they used that momentum to score just seconds later when center Brandon Sutter won a faceoff in the left circle, pushed it over to right winger Matt D'Agostini, who then shoveled it back to left winger Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis then slapped a shot by Nashville goaltender Marek Mazanec and into the upper right corner of the net to tie the game at 1. The goal came at 12:36 and snapped a 12-game goalless drought for Dupuis. D'Agostini's assist on the goal gave him his first point as a Penguin.
While the Penguins didn't capitalize on their first power play, they made no mistake on their second opportunity. Malkin, positioned at the point, fired a laser of a slap shot that left winger James Neal masterfully deflected up and over the blocker of Mazanec. The goal was Neal's first of the season and came at 15:56. Malkin's assist extended his assists streak to six games.
One of the few highlights for the Predators came just as the Penguins seemed poised to take a two-goal lead at 14:17 of the second. Mazanec slid from one side of the crease to the other just in time make an acrobatic glove save on Neal's attempted one-timer of a Malkin cross-ice pass.
The Penguins did get that elusive third goal at 7:58 of the second when defenseman Kris Letang, down from his position along the blue line, took a Malkin pass from behind the net and unloaded a one-timer from the bottom of the right faceoff circle that sailed through the pads of the Nashville netminder. Center Sidney Crosby picked up a secondary assist on the goal to add to his league-leading points total.
Sutter got in on the scoring at 18:37 of the second when he took a drop pass from left er Jussi Jokinen and wristed a frozen rope over the left shoulder of Mazanec off the iron and in to put the Penguins ahead by three.
A scary moment occurred near the end of the second when Nashville left winger Eric Nystrom took exception to a hard hit from Pittsburgh left winger Tanner Glass. Nystrom challenged Glass to a fight and he obliged, eventually catching Nystrom with a blow to the back of the head that bloodied Nystrom and knocked him to the ice. Nystrom was clearly dazed and needed assistance in getting to the Nashville locker room. He did not return to the game.
Fleury made 17 saves to earn his 11th win of the season, while Mazanec got the loss making 21 saves in two periods of work before being lifted for Carter Hutton in the third.
NOTES: Pittsburgh LW Chris Kunitz and D Deryk Engelland played in their 600th and 200th games, respectively. ... Friday's game was Nashville's 12th road game of the season. Only Anaheim, Edmonton and Vancouver have played more road contests. ... Kunitz went back-to-back games without a point for the first time since March 29-30, 2012, when he failed to record a point against the Flyers on Wednesday. Kunitz and the Lightnings' Martin St. Louis were the only two players in the NHL to go the entire season last year without going pointless in back-to-back games. ... Nashville used four goaltenders already this season; the franchise record is five (2002-03). ... Scratches for the Penguins were C Dustin Jeffrey and D Robert Bortuzzo. Scratches for the Predators were C Matt Hendricks, LW Rich Clune and D Victor Bartley. Both teams will be in action again on Saturday. The Penguins will be at New Jersey and the Predators will host Chicago.