Flurry of goals lifts Pens

Ross Houston
June 3, 2017

Plain and simple, Wednesday was not a good night for the Nashville Predators. Yes, they have been the better team. Boston, in 2011, was the last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Final, rallying to defeat Vancouver in seven games.

On Tuesday, Guentzel was a feel-good story after scoring the winning goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The second period would be rather quiet compared to the first and third periods with no goals, and no real intensity.

Pittsburgh vowed to put more pressure on Rinne than it managed in their 5-3 victory in Game 1, a win they managed despite going 37 minutes without throwing a single puck Rinne's way and none in the second period, the first time that's happened since the National Hockey League started tracking shots in 1957. Nashville's Pontus Aberg and Guentzel scored in the first for a 1-1 tie that carried into the third.

This time, Pittsburgh's flurry came a little bit later.

Ten seconds into the third period, after an opening 40 minutes that had tilted toward Nashville even as the scoreboard read 1-1, Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel blasted in a rebound that Rinne had kicked right to him. But Rinne's play in the biggest games of his career has been a major storyline, too, for all the wrong reasons. Murray's 5-1 record with a.943 save percentage, and 1.54 goals allowed per game make it tough to start Marc-Andre Fluery. It's not like the Predators are being completely outplayed.

Guentzel, at the right post, took two whacks at a rebound of a Conor Sheary shot. He was pulled when Evgeni Malkin ended Pittsburgh's surge with his ninth of the playoffs 3:28 into the third. Malkin's shot sent Rinne to the bench in favor of backup Juuse Saros, who made his playoff debut.

"I treat this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity", said the 34-year-old Rinne.

The series shifts to Tennessee as the Predators play host to their first National Hockey League championship games in franchise history.

- The Penguins won 33 of 77 face-offs in Game 2. It appeared that they were going to find a way to earn a split in Pittsburgh before heading home for Game 3.

Pittsburgh's offense is lethal, and though it can go dormant (see: 37 minutes without a shot on goal in Game 1), the Pens' rapid-fire goals can strike at any moment - often one soon after another. Bad or even average possession teams so rarely win the Cup now: Boston was 14th in 2011 with one of the great goaltending performances in history; Pittsburgh, in 2009, was 19th with Crosby and Malkin.

"It seems like every other shift I'll be center or wing".

"To be polite and answer your question again, we don't talk about lineup decisions", said Laviolette.

"I mean, (analytics are) a part of it now", said Crosby.

"When we score one, we don't stop", Malkin said. This Penguins team has elite offensive talent, and a goalie.

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. They are four of the five top scoring players in the playoffs. The goalie who had been so dominant in the playoffs has now given up eight goals on 36 shots and has a.777 save percentage in the Stanley Cup final.

A style that now has the Penguins two victories away from the cusp of a dynasty.

So the Predators said they could have been better, all of them, and Rinne said his confidence was undamaged, and now they have a mountain to climb.

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