<
>

Hamhuis scores, notches four assists

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A streaking power-play unit faced the NHL's
worst penalty-killing team, with predictable results: A 16th
consecutive Pittsburgh Penguins home game without a victory.

Rookie defenseman Dan Hamhuis scored a goal during a five-point
night and the Nashville Predators quickly built a five-goal lead in
a 9-4 victory Thursday, leaving the Penguins one loss or tie from
matching the league record for the longest home winless streak.

Pittsburgh is 0-15-1 at home since Dec. 29. The Ottawa Senators
went 0-15-2 during their record 17-game winless streak from Oct.
28, 1995, through Jan. 27, 1996.

The Predators, trying to hang onto one of the Western
Conference's final two playoff spots, exploited the league's worst
penalty-killing unit by scoring a team-record six power-play goals
-- including their first three goals.

The six power-play goals allowed set a Penguins record, topping
the five they gave up four times previously, the last in 1989.

"It's funny how it kept going in and in and in," Hamhuis said.
"It's one of those nights when things are going your way. It's
funny when it happens because it doesn't happen very often."

The Penguins rallied from deficits of 5-0 and 6-1 to cut
Nashville's lead to 6-4 midway through the third on Dick
Tarnstrom's goal, but David Legwand scored his 15th of the season
less than a minute later to start a burst of three Nashville goals
in the final eight minutes.

Adam Hall scored two of the Predators' four goals in the third
period. Hamhuis, the NHL leader in rookie ice time, had a goal and
four assists after never getting more than two points previously in
an NHL game.

"For me, it's pretty surprising because I never really think
about getting points," Hamhuis said.

Steve Sullivan added a power-play goal and two assists and now
has seven goals and nine assists in nine games since being traded
by Chicago. The Predators are 6-2-1 with Sullivan and have twice
scored five or more power-play goals with him, getting five in a
7-3 victory over San Jose on Feb. 18. That previously was the club
record for power-play goals in a game.

Nashville has 17 power-play goals in its last nine games.
Pittsburgh has allowed 76 goals on 310 power plays, a league-worst
75.5 percent success rate in killing penalties.

Penguins rookie goalie Andy Chiodo had been 2-3-1 since being
called up from the minors, but had by far his worst NHL start by
yielding power-play goals to Marek Zidlicky, Martin Erat, Andrew
Hutchinson and an even-strength goal by Jordin Tootoo in the first
16:12.

Tootoo, the first person of Inuit descent to play in the NHL,
joked afterward he should have a big night in the arena known as
the Igloo. Tootoo twice drew penalties that led to power-play goals
and was chosen as the game's No. 3 star behind Hamhuis and
Sullivan.

"Yesterday when we were driving, I said, `Hey, I don't think
there's ever been a true Inuit who has played in the Igloo,"
Tootoo said. "It's obviously very enjoyable and I can't wait to
come back here again."

The Penguins probably aren't as eager to keep playing in an
arena where they haven't won since last year.

"We're young and we're stupid," defenseman Josef Melichar
said. "We didn't have the start we wanted. Our PK wasn't ready at
all. We just weren't as sharp as we had been (in getting at least
one point in three of their previous four games)."

For Nashville, it was a reversal of the night before, when the
Predators fell behind Philadelphia 4-0 in a 5-2 loss.

Hamhuis made it 5-0 early in the second period before Pittsburgh
tried to get back into it with goals by Milan Kraft, Josef
Melichar, Landon Wilson and Tarnstrom.

About a minute after the game ended, the teams traded pushes,
shoves and a few punches as they tried to leave the ice, but the
skirmish was quickly broken up.

Game notes
Nashville's power play is 17-of-48 with Sullivan. ...
Nashville has 76 points, topping last season's total of 74. ...
Zidlicky now owns Nashville's single-season record of 45 points by
a defenseman. ... Nashville is a combined 12-4-1-1 against the
Eastern and Atlantic Divisions. ... Erat's goal came only 3{
minutes after he was leveled by Mike Eastwood's hit in the
Penguins' end.