NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After two straight losses, Sidney Crosby made sure there wasn’t a third.
Crosby had a goal and two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Nashville Predators their first loss in regulation with a 3-0 shutout on Saturday.
The Predators were the last NHL team to lose in regulation this season.
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Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis also scored for Pittsburgh, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
”Everybody committed to our defensive game, and it didn’t really take away from our offensive game tonight,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston. ”Against a stingy team who has a great goaltender, we were still able to score three.”
Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves for his first shutout of the season and 29th of his career.
Nashville recorded four shots on Fleury before the Penguins got their first shot of the night. Early on, Fleury thought he was in for a heavy workload.
”I thought I was going to be a little more busy. But give credit to our guys. I thought they played very solid,” Fleury said. ”They are a good team. They are a fast team, and I thought we played very well against them.”
Fleury was the first overall pick in the 2003 Entry Draft, which was held in Nashville.
Crosby opened the scoring at 6:21 of the first period when he collected the rebound of his own shot at the right post and stuffed it past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.
”We played the right way,” Crosby said. ”We didn’t sit back to play defensively. We play defense with our forecheck and getting sticks in lanes and forcing them to miss shots sometimes. All around, that’s more our style of game.”
The goal killed any momentum Nashville had from the early pressure they put on Fleury.
”I think the start was okay and the guys came out of the gate the right way,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ”I think that goal, that changed the tide a little bit.”
Patric Hornqvist earned the second assist on Crosby’s goal. Pittsburgh acquired Hornqvist and Nick Spaling from Nashville in a draft-day trade in exchange for high-scoring winger James Neal.
Neal recorded a natural hat trick in Nashville’s Thursday night victory over Chicago.
Malkin and Dupuis scored power-play goals 3:22 apart early in the third period.
Malkin’s goal came on a give-and-go with Crosby. From above the right circle, Crosby hit Malkin in stride by the left post, where he had an easy re-direct for his third goal of the season, all on the power play.
Crosby has five goals and seven assists on the season.
”That’s why he’s the best player in the world, right?” Nashville defenseman Seth Jones said. ”It’s tough to contain guys like that, him and Malkin on the ice together, it’s tough. He’s just good down low when you give him time and space and I don’t think we took it away fast enough.”
In the low slot, Dupuis collected the rebound of Steve Downie’s shot and beat Rinne with a backhand. The goal was Dupuis’ 400th career NHL point.
Pittsburgh entered the game with the league’s best power play with a 36.4 percent success rate. They went 2 for 3 with the man advantage against Nashville.
Notes: After playing six of their first eight at home, the Predators head on the road for the next six and seven of eight. … Nashville has allowed the first goal in six of eight games this season. … Fleury is 6-2-1 against Nashville. … Malkin has at least one point in each of Pittsburgh’s seven games this season.