NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 14th (All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (32-23-5) at Pittsburgh Penguins (36-22-3), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby said he wanted to score more goals this year and the former Hart Memorial Trophy has delivered.
Fresh off of posting his first career 40-goal season, Crosby will try to lead the Penguins to just their second win in their last nine games versus the Nashville Predators in today's meeting at Mellon Arena.
Owner of 300 career assists, Crosby scored twice in Friday's 3-2 overtime setback to the Rangers to give him 41 goals on the season. That surpasses his previous career high of 39 set during his rookie season in 2005-06. The 22- year-old has reached at least 33 goals in four of his five NHL seasons and has 16 goals in his last 17 games.
"I'm obviously happy," said Crosby. "I want to put pucks in the net, that's part of my role. I am definitely happy I have been scoring."
Pittsburgh, though, took the loss on Friday when New York's Olli Jokinen beat Marc-Andre Fleury 1:02 into overtime. Fleury made 16 saves on 17 shots after replacing Brent Johnson late in the second period. Johnson was forced out of the game due to a lower-body injury after turning aside 20-of-22 shots faced.
Evgeni Malkin added an assist to give him eight goals and 13 helpers over a 12-game point streak, as the Penguins fell to 1-1-2 over their last four games and two points behind the first-place Devils in the Atlantic Division.
Pittsburgh next hopes that Crosby's scoring touch can get them a victory over the Predators. Nashville notched a 5-3 home win over Pittsburgh last year to improve to 6-1-0 with a tie in the last eight meetings. The Predators have outscored the Penguins, 36-19, in that span but are just 1-2 with a pair of ties all-time in Pittsburgh.
Crosby has never scored versus Nashville but has five assists in three games against the club.
The Predators didn't help the Penguins in the standings Friday night, as they lost a 5-2 decision in New Jersey. Jordin Tootoo scored in his second straight game and Cal O'Reilly notched his second goal of the season and second in three games, while Pekka Rinne allowed four goals on 27 shots.
"Specialty teams hasn't been great this year," said Rinne, whose club has lost three of four while also going 3-7-2 in its last 12. "But other than that I feel like every single night we have a chance to win the hockey game and it was the same thing tonight."
Nashville is still seventh in the Western Conference, tied with Calgary, despite its recent troubles and has also lost six of its last seven on the road. The Preds conclude a four-game road trip today.
Patric Hornqvist leads the Predators with 23 goals but has gone four straight without lighting the lamp, posting just one assist in that span.
02/14 10:30:53 ET