Penguins 4 – Predators 1
(PIT LEADS SERIES, 2-0)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are two wins away from hoisting Lord Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season.
Despite the Nashville Predators being the far superior team for the first 40 minutes, the Penguins got great goaltending from Matt Murray and then an offensive explosion seconds into the third period sunk the Predators in a Penguins 4-1 win on Wednesday night at the PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins were building something late in the second period and it carried over from the drop of the puck in the third.
Jake Guentzel struck again 10 seconds into the period on a juicy rebound and the Penguins kept coming.
Scott Wilson put the Penguins ahead 3-1 at 3:15 of the period and Evgeni Malkin brought the house down with a blistering shot on a 2-on-1 goal from the left circle 15 seconds later as the Penguins jumped out to a commanding 4-1 lead.
Malkin’s goal had the crowd flooded with “We Want the Cup” chants and the Penguins were still looking to pour it on.
Patric Hornqvist added a power play goal, 2:20 after the Malkin tally, but the Hornqvist goal was ruled off-sides and overturned.
How the Penguins can change the fortune of a hockey game out of nowhere is what makes them so special and why you better put them away when you have a chance.
Nashville failed again to do so when they had Pittsburgh on the ropes.
Going into the 2nd intermission, the Predators led in shots 32-19, were +22 in shot attempts (53-31) but what mattered is that it was still a 1-1 hockey game.
Matt Murray was a rock in goal that kept the Penguins in the game before they took it over within seconds in the third.
The Predators speed/pressure game continued to overwhelm the Penguins in periods one and two as it has for five of six periods.
The series isn’t over but that now looks like an afterthought as the Penguins show time after time they can withstand a key strength of the opposition by countering in another form.
Tonight it was great goaltending with a 37-save performance from Matt Murray and quick strike offense.
3 goals in 3:28. 3 goals in 4:08 during Game 1.
Nashville outshot Pittsburgh 38-27.
What was a key for the Penguins quick strike offense in the third period was key moments offensively late in the second period where the Penguins started to develop a territorial edge and it carried over into the third.
Pekka Rinne looked shaky all game and he looked primed for the opportunity to come unglued and he did.
One line change that worked was replacing Conor Sheary with Jake Guentzel as the game progressed in the second period.
Nashville even while being the superior team in periods one and two, were playing with fire all night.
The careless stick penalties were constant.
Prior to the Guentzel third period goal, Nashville had taken the last four penalties of the game but Penguins were 0 for 5 on the power play thru two periods and finished 0 for 7 in the game.
The Penguins despite a 4-1 win, were chasing this game.
The Predators struck first for the second consecutive game, this time the goal wasn’t overturned.
Pontus Aberg scored a brilliant goal at 12:57 of the first period, walking defenseman Olli Maatta for the opening goal.
Nashville, though, would beat themselves in period one despite being the more dominant team, firing 18 shots at Matt Murray.
Prior to the Aberg goal, they took themselves out of a 5-on-3 situation with Mike Fisher interfering Ian Cole in front.
Then less than two minutes after the Aberg goal, Roman Josi takes a cross-checking penalty at 14:32 of the first period.
Pittsburgh makes Nashville pay with Jake Guentzel scoring four seconds after the Josi penalty expired, his 11th of the playoffs.
Guentzel with an NHL leading 12 goals in the playoffs has gone from a potential scratch for Game 1 to now being a major reason the Penguins have a 2-0 series in the Stanley Cup Final with a 2-goal effort tonight, his 5th game winning goal of the playoffs and 2nd of the Stanley Cup Final.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"