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Neal’s 4 Assists Help Pittsburgh Route Nashville 5-1 in Radulov’s Return


Photo Caption: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The much-anticipated return of Alexander Radulov had the eyes of the hockey world fixated on Pittsburgh tonight as the Predators took on the Penguins in a possible preview of the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately it was Sidney Crosby and his crew that showed why they are arguably the Cup favorites at this point.

Behind James Neal’s 4 assists and 7 other Penguins getting on the scoresheet, the Pittsburgh Penguins took care of a less-than-enthused Predators squad 5-1 on a night where Nashville could have taken sole possession of 4th place in the Western Conference.

The first period wasn’t very kind to Nashville and it all happened in a span of 4 minutes. With Evgeni Malkin getting his 44th goal at 1:23 and Pascal Dupuis converting his 22nd goal at 4:06, Nashville was down 2-0 with 55+ minutes left in the game. While the Predators were struggling to figure out what happened, Pittsburgh was in a full-out attack mode.

Nashville looked increasingly better throughout the remainder of the first, and initially to start out the second, however they were again quickly put in their place as Matt Cooke converted on a James Neal pass delivered off a Francis Bouillon turnover to make it 3-0 Penguins only 1:58 into the second. Then, Chris Kunitz would make it 4-0 at 7:35.

Would the Predators be done? Not so fast

Alex Radulov, with the spotlight on him, converted on his first shot on goal at 12:01 of the second to cut the lead to 4-1 Pittsburgh. Nashville would get a powerplay in the final minute of the period, but wouldn’t convert through the end of 40 minutes.

After failing to capitalize on the remainder of the powerplay at the start of the third period, Malkin would turn on his crosshairs and fire a laser into the top left corner of the net to give the Penguins back their 4 goal lead at 2:03.

Special Teams:

Powerplay – 0 for 2, 0%
Penalty Kill – 1 for 1, 100%

My Three Stars:

#1: – A – 4
#2: – D – F
#3: – D – 2


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