Predators complete wild comeback to beat Pens

Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 9:45pm
David Legwand scored a shorthanded goal in Nashville's comeback win over Pittsburgh on Thursday. Mike Strasinger for The City Paper

Ryan Suter was involved in three goals Thursday — the first two for the other team.

Yet when his straight-away shot from just inside the blue line bounced off a Pittsburgh Penguins’ player and into the net for a power-play goal with 10:56 remaining it did two things.

First, it evened the proverbial score on the defenseman’s personal ledger. More importantly, it broke a tie on the scoreboard and turned out to be the game-winner as the Nashville Predators overcame a three-goal deficit for an improbable 5-3 victory before 14,297 at the Sommet Center.

“I got an assist on their second goal and an assist on their third goal,” Suter said. “… Hopefully, we got rid of those bad bounces and we got some fortunate bounces going our way.”

The rally snapped a five-game losing streak, and the five goals were the most scored by the Predators since a 5-2 victory at Carolina on Nov. 23. The last time they overcame a three-goal deficit was April 3, 2008, the next-to-last game of last season.

All of that was done against an opponent that featured two of the NHL’s top three scorers, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and with all the breaks going against them.

“It’s a thing that can change the season for us,” Martin Erat said. “We were down, (had) a five-game losing streak and to come back like this, it’s says something about this team.”

Nashville already trailed 1-0 when Suter attempted to clear a puck from in front of his own net only to have it deflect off teammate Jason Arnott and past goalie Dan Ellis.

It was 21 seconds later that Suter’s stick snapped as he attempted to break up a two-on-one. The puck continued through the slot, off a skate and on to the stick of Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot, who fired it into the open side of the net.

“We sat on the bench and me and (defenseman Shea Weber) were like, ‘Can anything else go wrong?’ Suter said.

They weren’t the only ones talking. At the same time, captain Jason Arnott told his linemates, Erat and David Legwand, “We owe three goals.”

Trotz decided to use that particular unit, with Legwand as a winger, only hours before the start of the contest in an attempt to find offense for a team that had scored just 12 times in its previous nine games. Instead, the three were on the ice for each of Pittsburgh’s goals.

Erat finally got Nashville on the board when he collected a loose puck in front after a shot by Legwand and flipped a backhand shot under the crossbar. Fewer than six minutes later, Erat and Legwand completed a two-on-one with a shorthanded goal by Legwand. Arnott eventually got his second point of the night (he assisted on Erat’s goal) when he got the primary assist on Suter’s game-winner.

“We got tested – our resiliency got tested (Thursday) night,” coach Barry Trotz said. “… When they made it 3-0, it was a very telling point. ... We could have, right there, put our heads down, but Jason said to Erat and Legwand, ‘We owe the team three.’

“The next shift out, you could tell their determination.”

No doubt it was similar to Suter’s determination to stop contributing to the opponent’s attack.

BRIEFLY: Dan Ellis started in goal for Nashville but was pulled after Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead. He made five saves on seven shots. “The only reason I did that was to change the luck,” Trotz said. “I wasn’t mad at Ellis.” Pekka Rinne replaced Ellis, allowed a goal on the first shot he faced but stopped 17 for the win. … Center Mike Santorelli was recalled Thursday morning and made his NHL debut in the contest. He had three shots in 12:54 of ice time on a line with Ryan Jones and J.P. Dumont. “I thought (Santorelli) was real good,” Trotz said. “… He was really moving the puck quick. He was finding people quick.” … Defenseman Greg de Vries was scratched in favor of Ville Koistinen. De Vries had played in all previous 39 games. It was the first time Koistinen and Kevin Klein were in uniform at the same time. … Minor league defenseman Alexander Sulzer was signed to an NHL contract for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Sulzer, a native of Germany, was a third-round pick in 2003, the same year Nashville drafted current defensemen Suter, Klein and Weber. He currently is third among AHL defensemen in assists (22) and points (29) in 35 games with Milwaukee.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period

Pittsburgh (14:18) – Petr Sykora (16). Assist: Sidney Crosby (36).

Second period

Pittsburgh (3:29) – Jordan Staal (12). Assists: Tyler Kennedy (10), Sidney Crosby (37).

Pittsburgh (3:50) – Maxime Talbot (5). Assist: Matt Cooke (11).

Nashville (7:57) – Martin Erat (10). Assists: David Legwand (12), Jason Arnott (10).

Nashville (13:32) – David Legwand (7) SH. Assists: Martin Erat (16) and Greg Zanon (5).

Nashville (19:05) – Jerred Smithson (3). Assist: Joel Ward (6) and Dan Hamhuis (10).

Third period

Nashville (9:04) – Ryan Suter (4) PP. Assists: Jason Arnott (11), Shea Weber (17).

Goalies: Pittsburgh – Marc-Andre Fleury (12-10-2) 34 shots, 30 saves. Nashville – Dan Ellis (10-14-3), 7 shots, 5 saves (23:29); Pekka Rinne (8-5-0) 18 shots, 17 saves (36:31).

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By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Great Job Predators!!!! Now let's get on a roll!!!!! Go Nashville Predators!!!! Make it to the playoffs, win the Stanley Cup!!!! Average 14k per game fans!!!!!!!

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Finally, an entertaining game, win or lose.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Great comeback win. Maybe bringing up the kids threatens Erat and Leggy a little. It should. Now, do the same thing on Saturday and start trend.