Stanley Cup Finals Game 1: Penguins vs Predators

Through two periods of Game 2 Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin didn't have a shot on goal, and the Predators were controlling 64.7 per cent of the shot attempts at five-on-five, and the shots Pittsburgh did get were distant, helpless.

Guentzel's second goal was his fifth game-winning goal, setting an National Hockey League rookie record.

For so long the Pittsburgh Penguins have spent the Stanley Cup final hanging on, leaning back on the ropes, as George Plimpton once wrote of the rope-a-dope, like a man leaning out his window trying to see something on his roof.

The defending Stanley Cup champions needed just over three minutes at the start of the third period to turn a taut Game 2 into a runaway, beating Pekka Rinne three times in a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night to inch closer to becoming the first team in almost 20 years to win back-to-back titles. The coach did not commit to starting him when the series resumes this weekend, though he praised his goaltender throughout the postgame news conference. "We're happy to get home".

The best and last chance for Nashville to change the tenor of this series might be to switch goaltenders for Game 3. The Predators have to stick with him for Game 3 but Rinne's sub-par play has become the series' top storyline.

This game was closer to what we had expected out these two uptempo teams.

Pittsburgh now holds a 2-0 lead in the series. Only two other goalies in Stanley Cup playoff history have required fewer games to notch playoff win No. 20 - Hockey Hall of Famers Bill Durnan (26 games, 1944-47) and Patrick Roy (27 games, 1986-88).

Laviolette also said his team is frustrated to be in this situation after dominating play for stretches and taking a statistical edge on faceoffs (68-66), hits (77-67) and power-play performance (two for seven, compared to Pittsburgh's one for 10).

"We have to be more responsible with our actions", said Laviolette.

- I rarely agree with Mike Milbury... but his observations about the officiating so far are dead on target... the players don't know what is a penalty and what is not... blatant offenses being let go, soft calls being made.

The 22-year-old Penguins rookie, one season removed from college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha - his hometown - scored two more goals, including scoring the victor for the second straight time in the series. His shooting percentage for the playoffs is a robust 28.6 percent, and at this point he's made himself one of the frontrunners for the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP.

The Penguins also, and probably most amazingly, won this game by a score of 5-3.

"He speaks a little bit of Russian, but I play with some Russians too", Subban said.

It hasn't been easy against Pittsburgh.

The Predators biggest advantage in the series was their vaunted defence and like in Game 1, it seemed to be paying dividends in Game 2. But two games into the final, he is now a reason why Nashville is down 2-0. It was 1-1 because Nashvile's Pontus Aberg scored a beauty, and Jake Guentzel scored through Pekka Rinne.

Peter Laviolette refuses to discuss questions about his lineups, but did offer this on his star goalie late Wednesday night, "Pekka has been terrific through this entire playoffs". Nashville is 7-2 in the playoffs when scoring first, and this time it counted after a coach's challenge for offside wiped out a goal that would've given the Predators the lead in Game 1. Nashville has outshot the defending champions 64-39, but timely saves from Murray and timely goals from Guentzel have put the Penguins in a commanding spot.

Rinne kicked a Bryan Rust rebound to the slot where Guentzel scored his 12th of the playoffs and second of the game.

Lavoie pointed out how undisciplined the Predators have been, which contributed to Rinne's struggles Wednesday night.

He said he sprayed the fish with cologne and body spray, packed it in a cooler, and sneaked it into the arena by stuffing it down his trousers between two layers of regular and compression underwear - having tested the method by wearing the fish at his in-law's home for 20 minutes without them suspecting anything.

  • Julie Sanders