Published: Sat, June 03, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

As Stanley Cup Final shifts to Nashville, Predators must solve 'opportunistic' Penguins

The defending champion Penguins own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday. Pittsburgh scored soon after to make it 3-1, a goal that was credited to Scott Wilson, who got a piece of the puck before it went off the skate of Nashville forward Vernon Fiddler and between Rinne's pads. Nashville scored the first goal, but a Jake Guentzel goal tied it up for Pittsburgh minutes after Pontus Aberg scored first.

Laviolette pulled Rinne after the Predators gave up three goals in the first 3:28 of the third period Wednesday night for Juuse Saros.

"I don't think we expected to get one that quickly in the third", said Pittsburgh winger Conor Sheary. Guentzel now leads the playoffs with 12 goals and 19 points (also an American rookie playoff record).

His first goal on Monday was the result of some good fortune as he able to jam a loose puck through the slimmest of openings along the goal line, a play that Guentzel described as just trying to put the puck on net and seeing what happens.

The Penguins have poked holes in Rinne, just as they did to Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals in the first two rounds. The 34-year-old goalie is the main reason Nashville's season will extend into June for the first time. In the past 15 years, it ranks second behind Game 2 of the 2013 Final between Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, which was played between two Top 10 media markets and averaged 3.964 million.

Just 15 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin scored off of a two-on-one, firing a ideal shot over Rinne's glove for a 4-1 lead.

Rookie Jake Guentzel scored twice to increase his playoffs-leading goal total to 12 and the Pittsburgh Penguins erupted for three goals early in the third period Wednesday night in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena. "We thrived off that first one though".

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And we get an opportunity to get a couple days to see what they did and see what we did wrong and how we can be better in Game 2". Better communication would've helped them decide which one of them would pick up Curry and which one would pick up Durant.

That score held for two periods in a game that was heavily dominated by penalties, significantly more for both sides than in Game 1. That gave Pittsburgh as many shots as it had in Game 1.

Scoring more goals and firing more shots than any team during the regular season, Pittsburgh is certainly capable offensively and especially opportunistic in the playoffs with goals on 11 per cent of their shots. He had a slap shot from Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban go off the inside of his left ankle in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win Wednesday night while on the ice helping kill a big penalty.

"Pekka's been terrific through this entire playoffs", Laviolette said.

"I think Sid has a really nice way of making those guys feel comfortable when they come into our dressing room". The Predators haven't been flawless - they gave up too many odd-man rushes in Game 2 -- but they've still been very good. Three minutes later he couldn't handle a Scott Wilson rebound on a two-on-one that bounced in off teammate Vern Fiddler, off his hoof; and 15 seconds after that Rinne got beat clean by Malkin on a lovely shot on another two-on-one.

"I think he's had an opportunity to get a little bit of a second wind", Sullivan added. Then this year, seeing how it's progressed from round to round, and to be in the Final at this point, to see the excitement around the city, the excitement of our fan base, I'm sure it's going to be a great atmosphere. With the way that Murray has been playing since he took over Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final, two goals were all the Penguins needed. But, the Stanley Cup Finals, it's not about me, it's about the team. "We're not where we want to be".

Pekka Rinne closed his eyes and went back to a happy place.

Tempers flared late in Game 2, when Nashville's P.K. Subban and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin dropped the gloves. The mockery is also prevalent at Predators' home games, from the auto with the Penguins logo on it that's slowly being demolished by sledgehammers in front of the arena to the "it's all your fault!" chants that serenade opposing goalies.

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