Preds: Shutting down Pens' stars not possible every game

Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray picked the ideal time to post a shutout, and his teammates could not have played much better offensively either in Game 5. Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette and players pause at the bench during the third period in Game 5 of the team's NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Th.

That was a problem for the Nashville Predators, who learned the hard way what happens when the Penguins captain elevates his game into another stratosphere. They've struggled to make entry passes and shadow the quicker Predators forwards. The Predators' fan base, which chanted, "It's all your fault", after every goal the Penguins allowed, even the empty-net goal in Game 4, beg to differ.

"We've got to get one more win now", Schultz said. Our guys have a tremendous amount of confidence him.

"You move forward here, you learn from it and we'll be a lot better in our home rink", said Predators forward James Neal.

Now Rinne goes into the biggest game of his career Sunday night needing yet another home victory to force both the defending champs and the Stanley Cup Final to a deciding seventh game back in Pittsburgh. We had a clincher a year ago at home and we didn't get it done. What began as a two-month slog to the Cup is now a three-game dash, one that appears to be a coin flip. They "got to their game" (another of Sullivan's favorite mantras) repeatedly in Game 4 only to lose.

The 22-year-old who leads the National Hockey League in playoff goals and is a legit contender for the Conn Smythe trophy watched the Pittsburgh Penguins lift the Stanley Cup last spring on TV as a minor leaguer just getting his feet wet as a pro. Pittsburgh had averaged one goal per game in the series to that point.

The home side added three more scores in the second where Phil Kessel notched his first goal of the Finals, with Conor Sheary and Ron Hainsey adding to the Penguins' tally. Kessel set up Malkin for a goal that came with the teams playing four aside, with Crosby in the penalty box after mugging his nemesis in the series, Subban. Colton Sissons, absorbing big minutes in Johansen's absence, has more points in 20 post-season games (12) than he did in 58 regular-season games (10).

Rookies accounted for the game-winning goals in the first four games of the series, with Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel connecting in Games One and Two and Gaudreau answering for the Preds in Games Three and Four.

Yet there's been no question that Rinne, who has never won a start in Pittsburgh, will be in net Sunday night.

With eight goals and 27 points, Crosby isn't leading the playoffs in scoring (Malkin is).

"Obviously not the start you want to have", Rinne said. I do know that we can get better in that aspect of our game here over the next week. "Right now we've just got to focus on Game 6 at home and put all our energy in that one". The Predators won 4-1 to tie the series 2-2.

Rain most of Monday kept the crowd outside from reaching the more than 50,000 who showed up on Saturday for the first Stanley Cup final game ever played in Tennessee.

"It's definitely a bit of a mental game", Wilson said of his current issues. "We were right there and we know if we can bring the same effort and just don't have that breakdown in a three- or four-minute span when they can score a few goals, I think we're going to have a good chance".

Sidney Crosby scored the Penguins only goal that way, beating Rinne on a first period breakaway.

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.

Defenseman Ryan Ellis' night ended early in the second period because of an apparent injury. Then there's the attraction of the Penguins looking to become the first team to repeat as Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

  • Julie Sanders