The hottest team in hockey looks to rebound from an overtime loss when it hosts the Nashville Predators, owners of the best record in the NHL, on Tuesday night in a matchup of two of the league’s highest-scoring clubs.
The Penguins (26-17-9) are 8-0-2 in their last 10, their longest point streak since winning 10 in a row from Jan. 28-Feb. 15, 1999. Crosby, the NHL leader in points and assists, has four goals and 15 assists during the run to help propel Pittsburgh into second place in the Atlantic Division.
Pittsburgh had won a season-high six straight before falling 4-3 in overtime at Montreal on Sunday. Crosby assisted on two of the Penguins’ three goals but made a key error in the extra period, losing the puck in the Canadiens’ zone on the play that led to the winning goal.
“I was just making a move, and when you make a move that high in the zone you know it could be trouble if you lose it there,” Crosby said. “That’s a bad area to lose the puck, so obviously I have to learn from that one.”
Crosby hopes the lesson takes as he tries to help the Penguins extend their streak against Nashville, which has won seven of the last nine games in the series. The Penguins, averaging 4.4 goals in the last 10 contests, have won seven of their last eight home games, including five straight.
The Predators (37-14-3) dropped two straight games last week for the first time since early December.
Nashville recovered from the brief skid Saturday with a 3-0 win over Anaheim, the Predators’ closest challenger in the Western Conference. Tomas Vokoun made 36 saves for his third shutout of the season and second since returning from a thumb injury Jan. 9.
“I’m getting there,” Vokoun said. “Getting a shutout is a good thing. Our guys played smart defensively. (The Ducks) took a lot of shots, but most of them were from the outside. We had 20 shots, but we probably had more quality scoring chances than they did.”
Those chances often came on the power play. The Ducks were hit with a season-high 64 penalty minutes, and Nashville converted on two of its eight opportunities with the man advantage. The Preds also set a season high for penalty minutes with 44, but Anaheim went 0-for-4 on the power play.
“That’s hockey,” said Nashville’s Jason Arnott, who scored a power-play goal in the second period and assisted on the other in the third to extend his goal streak to four games and his point streak to seven. “You play a team like Anaheim, a playoff competitive team, and it is going to get rough out there. Frustrations are high when a team is down 2-0. Our guys stuck together. That’s what you have to do.”
This will be the only meeting of the season between the Predators and Penguins. Nashville leads the series 7-3-0 with two ties.