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We've seen this time and time again with the Pens under Dan Bylsma. Everyone starts to get a little uneasy about things, and the Pens respond with a W. In fact, this is the time of the year that the Pens teabag everyone and leave everyone in the dust on their way to the playoffs.
Here’s what the Penguins have done in March:
2009 – 10-1-3
2010 – 8-4-3
2011 – 8-4 -3
2012 – 11-3-1
2013 – 15-0-0
That is 52-12-10. Good God.
The Pens’ special teams came up huge. The Pens will have to win games like this. Keep it tight then take advantage of power plays. Niskanen’s second goal devastated the Preds. The PK had to kill off some penalty time right after it, and that was huge, too.
The focus is on Ray Shero today. Here’s this recap in the meantime…
According to Root Sports, things started out really well for the Pens…
pic via @bmdrose
Nashville got Pekka Rinne back, which is huge for their stretch run.
Crosby and Kunitz were on a 2-on-1 a couple minutes in. Crosby waited then fed Kunitz. Looked like a sure goal.
Even Despres thought it was cash:
But Pekka Rinne said no. What a save.
Great pace to the entire first period. Pens got the first PP but didn’t do anything. Craig Smith hit the pipe behind MAF’s Thriller shoulder. Kunitz channeled Dupuis with a slapper at the other end, but Rinne is so huge.
Tons of action late in the period. First came Paul Gaustad’s kick or no kick goal. After one of the longer reviews of the season, it came out as a kicking motion. Imagine if that call has to be made in OT of Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final. Actually you can bet your ass it would be a no-goal in that situation.
Then came James Neal punishing Del Zotto from behind. Bullshit move. James Neal is insanely dirty.
The Predators got a PP from it, but it almost became the night Tanner Glass died. First Glass gave his stick to Orpik then skated out to the shooting gallery. He blocked shot after shot from Shea Weber’s stick. Jesus Christ.
Bortuzzo laid a hit on Colin Wilson late, and they battled to the death.
The scoreboard started getting some work. First Crosby skated around and laid a pass to Niskanen, who somehow squeaked it through Rinne. 1-0.
That lead didn’t last long. 14 seconds to be exact.
Patric Hornqvist found some litter in front of MAF to tie it up. 1-1.
Despres took his usual penalty, and the Pens killed it off.
Neal-Malkin-Jokinen had a great shift that culminated in Geno ringing one off the pipe. Gibbons got tripped by MDZ, and then Geno hit the post again. What a pass by Crosby on that one-timer.
Pens got caught with too many men on that PP, so, yeah. Preds hit the post once on their PP, and that was it.
Preds came out hungry.
Kunitz got hooked trying to get a fast break going, got the fast break going and got the Pens a PP. Pens had to survive a scare when MAF had to make a split-second decision to come out and beat a Pred to a loose puck.
Pens picked up the trash and headed the other way with numbers. Crosby slowed it down and fed it Geno, who fed Niskanen coming in with his plow meter on full. Big blast past Rinne. 2-1.
Shea Weber was jammed after the goal, but that was nothing compared to what happened after the Pens' next goal.
Pluggers were on the ice after the Niskanen goal, and the Pens averted a disaster there. But the Pens got a PP when Niskanen jobbed a Pred. And then that was done when David Legwand got caught doing everything in his power to make sure Nashville lost. All that PP time was a wash.
With time winding down, Crosby forechecked, and it looked like he tripped up Roman Josi with some subtle leg-on-leg action. Before you knew it, Crosby fed Kunitz, who ripped one like Dale Peterson. 3-1.
Shea Weber was irate and got the gate for unsportsmanlike conduct, basically sealing the Predators' fate.
And then Tanner Glass somehow hit the post on a wide-open empty net. Not even sure how it's possible, but it happened, and it shows what's going on with the Pens' bottom six. That's not being snakebitten. That's not bad luck. That's just embarrassing.
– MAF needed a game like this. Most of the shots he faced were legit, but he looked a little uncomfortable with the Predators being in his face.
– Matt Niskanen. Matt Niskanen.
– Brian Gibbons needs to do something soon. He's getting assists by default. People point to him drawing penalties, but those are usually accidents. He'd look good on the third line. After today, our complaining is over. The Pens' roster will be set, and there's nothing to be done about it. Just got to live with it and make the best of it.