Predators leaning on Pekka Rinne to force Penguins back to Pittsburgh

That comes to mind when talking to Barry Trotz, the Washington Capitals head coach who prior to his current gig had spent 15 long years coaching the Nashville Predators. It looked like Crosby was at fault, but both the players got matching two-minute minors, because Subban, when he was finally was able to remove himself from the grip of Crosby, get up, and shoved him.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin scored during a first-period barrage against Pekka Rinne that sent the Nashville goaltender to the bench for the rest of the night, all the good mojo he created during a pair of wins in Games 3 and 4 gone.

If we have learned anything in the past year, it is that Crosby, who is second in playoff scoring with eight goals and 27 points, can play with just about anyone.

For those Crosby-haters - and there are plenty - demerits for his throwing a water bottle on the ice (unpenalized) to protest a referee's call in the second period and for those extra shoves to bang P.K. Subban's head on the ice.

"It's just one of those things it slipped out of my hand", Crosby said. "I don't even know what he did, P.K". The home team has won each game in the series.

It took all of 91 seconds for Pittsburgh to get its swagger back.

Chances are, unless you're one of the 40,000 or so fans who will converge on PPG Paints Arena and the big screen, you'll watch the game from your most comfortable spot.

"We've talked a little bit", Trotz said of Poile. The first three teams to lose by that much, the Oilers, Ducks and Senators, all came back to win the next game.

Pittsburgh kept up the pressure and Chris Kunitz set up Rust for a backhander that sailed past Rinne's glove to make it 2-0 at 6:43.

The one that got away. The two stars became tangled up behind the Nashville goal late in the first with Crosby on top. During Game three and four, Subban got on Crosby's nerves.

"I don't know if anybody shakes off a game like that that quickly", Laviolette said.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette yanked Rinne, who allowed three goals on nine shots in the first period, before the start of the second. While the team's shot generation and suppression trends are nearly the same in home versus road performances in these playoffs, the high-danger chance shares split quite a bit - the Penguins accounted for 53.0 percent (96 to 85) of the chances in games at home compared to 48.5 percent (99 to 105) on the road, according to naturalstattrick.com.

The goaltending has been downright feeble by the visitors in this series, be it Rinne or Pittsburgh's Matt Murray.

Saros relieved Rinne to start the second, but Pittsburgh upped its lead to 4-0 just 1:19 into the period on Sheary's goal from Crosby. The Senators won Game 6, 2-1, at Ottawa and the Penguins needed double overtime to beat the Senators, 3-2, in Game 7 at Pittsburgh.

He also passed Lemieux for the franchise record with 20 career points in Stanley Cup Finals. A shot at a fifth awaits Sunday, though it'll hardly be easy. So, why does it matter if the Penguins win at home, as long as they win? He and Subban have been embroiled in an epic Listerine controversy after Subban alleged that Crosby told him his breath smelled during Game 3 and Crosby later denied it.

The Nashville Predators' improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals has blurred the dividing line between music and sports, a convergence that's expected to hit a crescendo in Tennessee's capital city this weekend.

  • Julie Sanders