By Jim Diamond
October 25, 2015
Phil Kessel (81) scores in over time as Evgeni Malkin looks on.(AP)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- All Phil Kessel needed in overtime was a little open ice.
Kessel scored 41 seconds into the extra period to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Chris Kunitz had the other goal for Pittsburgh, which won for the fourth time in five games.
James Neal scored for Nashville, which lost at home for the first time this season.
Less than a minute into the 3-on-3 overtime, Kessel took the puck toward the Nashville net on the left side. His first shot was denied by Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, but he was able to tap the rebound in for the win.
''I just kind of wheeled around and got a 2-on-1 there,'' Kessel said. ''Fortunately I got a rebound and there was an empty net.''
As Kessel crossed the blue line on the play, Evgeni Malkin appeared to come into contact with Nashville's Filip Forsberg, causing Forsberg to fall to the ice and giving Kessel a clear path to the net.
''He got tripped, everybody saw it,'' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ''They went in on a 2-on-1 and we should have had a power play.''
Rinne finished with 23 saves for the Predators, who earned five out of six points on their three-game homestand.
Kunitz scored the game's first goal with 4:56 left in the second period.
Just after being released from the penalty box after serving a tripping penalty, Malkin carried the puck into the Nashville zone on the left side. He left the puck for Kunitz at the top of the circle, where he sent a slap shot past Rinne on the far side.
Nashville had scored first in each of their previous seven games this season.
Neal tied it with 8:33 left in the third. With a delayed penalty coming to the Penguins and an extra attacker on for the Predators, Neal beat Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a tough angle shot from goal line on the right side into the far corner of the net.
''I didn't want him to score at all,'' Fleury said about his former teammate. ''I wish he didn't get that goal, but we got the win, so that's what is more important.''
Fleury finished with 37 saves, 33 of which came in the second and third periods.
''He didn't have a lot of action early in the game, but in the third period, he was outstanding,'' Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. ''That 7-8 minute period, I know they scored at the end of it, but he was phenomenal at that time.''
Neal, a former Penguin, leads Nashville with six goals. It was his first goal against the Penguins, and he has now scored against all 30 NHL teams.
''I thought we played a really good game,'' Nashville captain Shea Weber said. ''Fleury played well for them and we battled back in the third. Unfortunately it didn't go our way.''
The Predators have lost four consecutive home games against Pittsburgh since last beating the Penguins on Jan. 8, 2009.