PITTSBURGH (AP) – The goals that came so easily to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final – the ones that arrived in bunches and seemed to signal an emphatic end to Pekka Rinne’s spectacular playoff run – have disappeared.
In Nashville, Rinne was electric, making 50 saves on 52 shots and standing on his head – sometimes literally – through both Preds wins.
The Predators eventually got two more goals in the game to win 4-1 and even the series at 2-2.
That goal, which came 3:45 into the second period, stood as the game victor, Gaudreau’s second in three days. The Pittsburgh power play has dissolved to dust, and at even strength, Nashville has dominated the puck game after game. Gaudreau has scored three times in the Cup Final – his first three goals of his career. Some good fortune was required, but that should not dismiss Rinne’s athletic display between the pipes. What a way to bounce back.
Gaudreau’s goal was confirmed only after the horn sounded and officials reviewed the play. But the Penguins were not without a response, as their captain tallied for the first time in the Final – his first SCF goal since 2009 – just over a minute later.
Guentzel’s goal 10 seconds into the third period of Game 2 broke a 1-1 tie and put the Penguins on the path to a 4-1 victory and was his second-game-winner of the series. But it was Rinne who was the difference maker throughout a game that could have gone either way if not for a big save at the right time.
What’s Gaudreau’s stat line in this series? The one facing questions now is Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray. Game 5 will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
“I think the goaltending position can be such an important position by nature of how the game’s played”, Sullivan said. If nothing else, it gives them something to build on moving into Game 5.
Every team should be expected to do better at home than on the road, but the difference for the Penguins is stark.
The 2017 Stanley Cup Final is now a best-of-three series.
Malkin finished with two shots. Everyone loves an underdog, and the Predators are using that emotion to show Pittsburgh that they are not lying down and giving the Penguins their second straight Stanley Cup.
Barkley says he’s been watching hockey for years dating back to a team in Birmingham, Alabama, and Ron Hextall is his favorite NHL player of all-time after watching him in Philadelphia. However, the Penguins own home-ice advantage in the series, requiring the Predators come into PPG Paints Arena and steal one to take home the Cup. He has played a total of 15 games – playoffs and regular season – in the National Hockey League.
Then they dispatched the Chicago Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
To Predators fans, they felt that the Pekka performances in Pittsburgh were nothing more than a passing phase.