Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

STANLEY CUP FINAL: Preds leaning on Rinne in Game 6


Rinne, the playoff leader in wins and goals-against average, rebounded in a big way for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville, limiting Pittsburgh to a just two goals on 52 shots as the Predators evened the series.

The cloud of the concussion symptoms that dogged him for the better part of two years in 2011 and 2012 are gone. There were two strong back-to-back stops, in particular, on James Neal shortly after Bryan Rust scored the second Pittsburgh goal. Rinne has stopped just 34 of the 45 pucks that have come his way during seven forgettable periods at PPG Paints Arena. "We know we're going to play our best hockey and we're going to come back with an even better performance". They are on the cusp of something historical, but there's so much work left to do. It was Crosby who sent the message - with his vision, his creativity and, oddly, his fists.

Sure, Crosby dished out three assists in Pittsburgh's lopsided 6-0 win to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead in their increasingly coarse series with the Predators.

"What I've really grown to admire and respect about Sid is not only is he a talented player, because there's a lot of talented players; I just think he has such a drive to be the best, and he's willing to do what it takes", coach Mike Sullivan said.

Subban was asked after the game if Crosby deserved more for the foul.

Crosby and Nashville's P.K. Subban got in a tangle on the ice behind the Penguins net late in the first, with Crosby bouncing Subban's helmeted head off the ice. He attempted to extract himself but couldn't, then unleashed a torrent of punches at Subban's head.

"(Subban) lost his stick, and he was doing some sort of UFC move on my foot", Crosby told reporters after the game, per NBC Sports.

"You know, I've said it on a number of occasions throughout the course of these playoffs that our defence group is, in a lot of ways, the unsung heroes of this team", Sullivan said Friday. I was in some kind of lock there. He's taken full advantage of being put back on the first line and in Game 5, he was rewarded. We get a power play, we score on the power play. Rinne gave way to Juuse Saros at the start of the second period after stopping just six of nine shots, continuing his wildly uneven play.

There was the slick blind backhand pass to Conor Sheary just 1:19 into the second period that made it 4-0. Kessel ended a six-game goal drought 8:02 into the second.

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Crosby's toss of a water bottle onto the ice from the bench during Game 5 was notable, too. Both of these teams would never have gotten this far if they couldn't win away from home. A shot at a fifth awaits Sunday, though it'll hardly be easy.

"The way we look at it is, we won a game".

Crosby made his presence felt early, weaving down the slot on the game's first shift, firing a shot off the left post and drawing a penalty on Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis.

The Predators are 9-1 at home in the playoffs, a place they will need to be a haven once again if they want to extend their improbable Cup run back to Pittsburgh. "When we get it in their hands, they can play fast, and they're really risky that way".

Here is what we know: if the Predators are going to force a seventh game - and possibly win the series - it will be because of Rinne.

NOTES: Matt Murray finished with 24 saves.

NOTES: Crosby now has 20 career points in the Stanley Cup Final, a new franchise record and one more than team owner Mario Lemieux. By the time the final buzzer went off, the teams had combined for 100 PIM.

Pucks bouncing past him on the NHL's biggest stage infuriate him. Penguins F Nick Bonino missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury. While the team's shot generation and suppression trends are nearly the same in home versus road performances in these playoffs, the high-danger chance shares split quite a bit - the Penguins accounted for 53.0 percent (96 to 85) of the chances in games at home compared to 48.5 percent (99 to 105) on the road, according to naturalstattrick.com.

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