Series about to get real in Nashville. Rinne or Saros? Buzzcast @ 4
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 11, 2017,
Jun 11, 2017, 23:11
With No. 1 defenceman Kris Letang gone midway through the season, they finished 14th in shots for and against at five-on-five; going into Game 2 Wednesday night, Pittsburgh had the second-lowest percentage of five-on-five shot attempts of any team in the playoffs at 46.9 per cent, which in the regular season would make them the 29th-ranked team in hockey, and then it got worse.
It was enough for Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to send in backup goalie Juuse Saros in to replace Rinne.
In a stunning surge - or collapse, depending where your allegiances lie - the Pittsburgh Penguins exploded for three goals in the first 3:28 of the third period to beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. They are not steamrolling opponents like last spring-goalie Matt Murray needed to make 37 saves in Game 2-though ascribing a rope-a-dope strategy doesn't quite fit either.
Rinne could benefit from the series' change in venue.
The Pittsburgh Penguins took home a 4-1 win Wednesday in nearly the exact same fashion as their Game 1 win. 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 hit on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first two games, but that doesn't mean it's time to give up on the Predators just yet. "You feel like the Pittsburgh Penguins, they have his number".
"Our focus is Game 3 and going home to a crowd that's going to be electric", Predators' captain Mike Fisher said. "There's going to be a lot of energy in the building".
Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams leading 2-0 have won 45 of 50 series. Will the Predators be in the 90 percent, or pull off a miracle four wins to join the 10 percent club? Pittsburgh also did it in 2009, losing both games on the road against Detroit. We're happy to get home. "I think we're looking forward to playing in front of our fans".
Rinne, who was last pulled on February 21, was mercifully replaced with Juuse Saros.
For the first two periods of Game 2, the Predators kept the score tied at 1-1 but took numerous avoidable penalties.
Guentzel, who snapped an eight-game goalless drought when he pumped the victor by Rinne with 3:17 left in the series opener, tied it later in the period.
"I get nervous before pretty much any game", Murray said. "I've played a long time, and the first time having a chance to play for the Cup, so I just think you have to bury these two games and move ahead, and just find a way to find some success".
It hasn't been easy against Pittsburgh. They are headed home to Bridgestone Arena, that earsplitting palace of soccer-style chants and live guitar licks, where have lost just once this postseason.
"Pekka's been terrific through this entire playoffs", Laviolette said.
Jake Guentzel scored 10 seconds into the period.
With his two goals in Game 2, Guentzel now has 12 in the playoffs, which is just two short of the rookie record set by Dino Ciccarelli of the Minnesota North Stars in 1981. In Game 1 he was beaten clean by Malkin on a power play, had no chance on a Conor Sheary goal, sent what should have been an easy rebound into a teammate's leg for the third goal, and was beaten clean by Jake Guentzel for the victor. Guentzel went eight games without a goal and still leads the playoffs with 12 goals in 21 games; Malkin leads the playoffs with 26 points in 21; Crosby and Kessel are at 22 and 20 in 20 and 21 games, respectively.
Then, 3 minutes, 13 seconds into the third, Scott Wilson scored when a centering pass caromed off Predators center Vernon Fiddler. The gap between Rinne's glove and trousers was about one puck's-width wide, but it goes to show it's never a bad idea to throw a put to the net. The Predators are also blowing away the Penguins in the faceoff circle, winning 62 percent of draws through 40 minutes.