Laviolette won't say it, but let's face it, Rinne's starting Game 3

Ross Houston
June 3, 2017

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.

A NOTE: Guentzel's goal 10 seconds into the third period of Game 2 set a franchise record for fastest goal to start a period. Yes, the Penguins required slightly longer in Monday's Game 1-three goals spanning 4:10 during the first period-but the aftermath felt similar.

So that was what they chatted about in the locker room.

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

It doesn't take much for the Penguins to be lethal. "We didn't think we had reached our best play yet and we were in a good spot at 1-1, and it's an opportunity to go out and throw up your best period and put yourself in a good spot, and I thought we had a really good period".

The teams traded goals and dirty hits in the first period, with Matt Irwin beginning the festivities by boarding Cullen at 5:18. There was no penalty.

"Yeah, that's more of how we need to play", Penguins center Sidney Crosby said about the third period of Game 2. "We have to put it behind you". "So we're going back home, we're going to win the next game, and then we'll see what happens from there". Nashville again controlled play through two periods - even-strength shot attempts were 44-24 for the Preds - but the 23-year-old kept it close for the defending champs.

Wilson was credited with his third of the playoffs just over 3 minutes later when a centering pass caromed off Nashville's Vernon Fiddler and by Rinne. The puck trickled under goaltender Pekka Rinne's pads at 3:13 to make it 3-1.

Guentzel has 12 goals and 19 points through the playoffs, despite going through a production lull during the seven game series against the Ottawa Senators.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette didn't explicitly commit to playing Rinne in Game 3 during his postgame press conference, but he also didn't place all the blame on his goalie. He's one of those guys that we have on our team that has the ability to make a difference in one or two shifts.

"There's a stretch they're able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic and that swung two games in their favor", he said.

This first-period Jake Guentzel goal?

Aberg, cutting in from the left wall, got past Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta, who fumbled the puck, and swept across just above the crease, patiently holding the puck and roofing it past Murray.

Saros stopped the only two official shots he faced. And after Rinne had allowed four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he wanted to feel good about his game again.

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

Asked twice afterward if he was committed to starting Rinne on Saturday, Laviolette stressed Rinne has been "terrific", adding there are plenty of things the Predators can do better in front of him like stopping the odd-man rushes that allowed the Penguins to take charge. A controversial decision at the time has helped push the Pens to within two wins of another Stanley Cup. "I've played a long time, and this is my first time having a chance to play for the Cup, so I think you just have to bury these two games and move ahead and just find a way to find some success".

It's pretty clear that Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray is outplaying Rinne. "We're going to stay consistent with that".

Nashville, a first-time Final participant, heads home with a sizeable task.

"He's the reason why we're here", Fisher said. "We're not where we want to be".

For the second game in a row, a goal was taken off the board after a coach's challenge, Laviolette successfully getting a score by Patric Hornqvist overturned when a video review deemed the play was offside. The Woodbury, Minnesota native leads all players in postseason scoring and, after his two goal performance in Game 2 against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night, is in the Conn Smythe conversation.

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