The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a three-game winless streak Tuesday night with a 3-1 win at Nashville.
While the victory wasn’t against the most impressive competition – the Predators are seventh in the Central Division and a long shot to make the playoffs – generating offense is usually a challenge against a Barry Trotz-coached team. That fact seemed to be evident in the final shot count, which featured a mere 19 for each side.
But how many of those looks at the net were truly dangerous? That’s what we try to determine with the Charting Chances project, which shows which team (and players) worked the puck into the “scoring areas” the most in a given game.
We deem a scoring chance to be whenever a team directs a shot cleanly toward the net from the zone often referred to as the “house” or “home plate” by hockey coaches. Take a look at the general area here.
To be a scoring chance, a shot from that area has to get through without getting blocked, unless the defender is deliberately covering for his goaltender. I’m generous with the “house” area when a quick pass precedes the shot, as the goalie and defenders will likely be out of position in those cases. Tipped shots aren’t counted unless it’s an obvious set play. (Stick tap to the Score’s Thomas Drance for the guidelines.)
On to the results, which showed a convincing edge for the Penguins. The first number you see is the total number of chances, with the power-play opportunities highlighted in parentheses:
|Penguins||6 (1 PP)||7 (4 PP)||7 (3 PP)||20 (8 PP)|
|Predators||4 (1 PP)||4 (2 PP)||3 (0 PP)||11 (3 PP)|
Although the score was tied or within one close for most of the night, we see Pittsburgh enjoyed a steady margin in actual scoring chances. Credit Preds goalie Pekka Rinne for terrific saves and blame the post on a couple occasions. Once again the power play was lethal, accounting for eight of 20 prime opportunities.
Alright, so which Pens were most effective at the offensive end? Let’s take a look:
|Sidney Crosby||0||8||8 (4 PP)|
|James Neal||5||1||6 (4 PP)|
|Chris Kunitz||5||1||6 (2 PP)|
|Evgeni Malkin||3||2||5 (3 PP)|
|Matt Niskanen||2||0||2 (1 PP)|
As was the case Saturday in Chicago, Sidney Crosby was the Penguins’ most dangerous offensive player, creating no fewer than eight chances against Nashville. No. 87 was in pure set-up mode Tuesday, as was evident in his three-assist output.
Crosby was clicking with linemate Chris Kunitz, who ended up taking five dangerous shots and creating one more. James Neal also buzzed the net, although four of his six chances were generated during the power play. Evgeni Malkin was also strong, especially on the man advantage.
Brandon Sutter ended up with two good looks, and Taylor Pyatt assisted on a pair, so it wasn’t the worst night for the Penguins foot soldiers. Still, the trend of the top two lines carrying the Pittsburgh offense continued.