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03 June 2017, 02:18 | Ricardo Garza
After the Malkingoal, Predators coach Peter Laviolette turned to backup Juuse Saros, another terrible performance for Rinne against the Penguins in the books; in four career starts in Pittsburgh before Wednesday, Rinne was 0-4 with a 4.71 goals-against average and an.831 save percentage.
The Penguins were happy Monday in Game 1 with how they played defensively against Nashville.
On Sunday, Jake Guentzel looked like a healthy scratch, the odd man out with Patric Hornqvist seemingly ready to return from an upper-body injury.
Guentzel broke the tie just 10 seconds into the third period, scoring on a juicy rebound left by Rinne.
"It's insane", said Guentzel, who has an National Hockey League rookie record five game-winning goals this postseason. He was particularly brilliant in Game 2 against Nashville, making 37 saves and holding things together while his team found its footing. His two goals, the Penguins early equalizer and eventual game victor, now have him sitting at 19 points this postseason, the most by any American rookie player in the playoffs.
But the Predators, in the finals for the first team, head home with a mountain to climb.
If the Predators are going to be successful in Game 3, they will require a much better effort from goaltender Pekka Rinne. They had been out-shot 32-19 at that point. He was pulled when Evgeni Malkin ended Pittsburgh's surge with his ninth of the playoffs 3:28 into the third.
Saros'first start of the 2016-17 campaign actually came against the Penguins and he managed to do something Rinne has never been able to in his career - defeat Pittsburgh. "You saw that last night", said Sullivan.
To put this in perspective, when the Predators were playing their best hockey in the first round against the Blackhawks, the Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson-Filip Forsberg line had 15 points in four games.
Do you think the Penguins have what it takes to finish on top the next two games? They won 5-3 in a game with two 3 goal swings.
Pontus Aberg scored the lone goal for the Predators, who were once again undone by a sudden barrage from the NHL's highest-scoring team.
They're also the best offensive team Rinne has faced in the playoffs, and have hung more goals on him (8) than any team has in consecutive games in the playoffs this season. Two of the biggest stars in hockey tussled against the boards with 7:46 left in a game Pittsburgh had taken over.
"Cleaning up just a few mistakes, that would help", Laviolette said.
"It's insane", said Guentzel, who had tied it at 1-1 at 16:36 of the first period.
"When we score one, we don't stop", Malkin said. "We're not where we want to be".
The teams traded goals and dirty hits in the first period, with Matt Irwin beginning the festivities by boarding Cullen at 5:18.
With each passing game, more and more fans pile into downtown to watch games on the plaza or in the adjacent Walk of Fame Park. But, what Pittsburgh and Nashville's meeting in the Stanley Cup Final might do is create more opportunities for players who would not have received much of an opportunity before.
"We're going back home, we're going to win the next game and then we'll see what happens from there", Subban said.
Numerous key players who contributed to the team's growth over the past decade are gone now - guys like Shea Weber, Patric Hornqvist, and Ryan Suter who were either traded away or left via free agency. Entering this one 4-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average and a.936 save percentage these playoffs, Murray stopped 37 of 38, bailing the Penguins out whenever their defense struggled. The rest, they say, is history, as the Penguins turned on the heat and snuck another two goals behind Rinne in a matter of moments. The third period was when things ramped up, and Nashville would be sent packing once again.
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