STANLEY CUP FINAL 3 goals early in 3rd tighten Pens’ grasp

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Two more goals followed in short order, three in all in the opening 3:28 of the period, forcing the Predators to pull goaltender Pekka Rinne and regroup heading back to Nashville.

The Pens switched up their D pairs during Game 2 and stuck with the new ones for practice…

After two periods of Game 2 on Wednesday night, the Predators should’ve felt confident about their chances of evening their Stanley Cup final series against Pittsburgh.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin long ago set the standard for homegrown talent in the Steel City, but a fresh-faced rookie is now the talk of the town.

Catfish watch is on for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Guentzel, who scored the victor in Game 1, now has the second-highest goal total ever recorded by a rookie in one playoff season. Third-period fireworks lifted the Penguins to a 4-1 win Wednesday against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 series lead.

Rinne went into the final with the stingiest numbers in net this postseason. Only one rookie, Dino Ciccarelli in 1980-81, has produced more playoff goals with 14.

“It boils down to winning battles and hanging onto pucks and doing what we do best”. It’s the wall play.

Guentzel was also the hero in Game 1, beating Rinne to break a 3-3 tie with just over three minutes left in regulation. “When the plays are there, (Guentzel’s) instincts will take over”.

National Hockey League history suggests that there is a decent chance the Predators can come back. From Matt Irwin’s blatant boarding and repeated cross-checking to post-play punches to the face (Jake Guentzel knows what we’re talking about), the list goes on. “After that, we have confidence that we’re going to score goals”. “I think that’s when our team is at its very best”. “He’s getting his legs back”. “I think it serves a goal, I don’t know if it tells the whole story, but if you see or evaluate things a certain way, sometimes it can confirm or deny what happened out there”. Even if Rinne does rediscover his touch and improves his play tenfold, it’s hard to imagine the Penguins will lose this final if Murray continues to play as well as he has to this point. We can move him up and down the lineup. We want more. It’s our game. “Thought they had a solid game”.

The inconsistency of the NHL’s referees and linesmen, especially in the postseason, has haunted hockey talk for some time, and the spotlight will – like it or not – be on the officials once again Saturday.

Guentzel scored on a long, juicy rebound of a Bryan Rust shot just 10 seconds into third period, the quickest goal to start a period in Penguins playoff history. The Predators looked like a shaken team and discombobulated in their own end.

Rinne is now 1-7-2 lifetime against Pittsburgh – his lone win came in relief at Nashville – and he entered the series with a.880 save percentage and a 3.57 goals-against average.

Rinne allowed four goals on 25 shots. The 34-year-old spent the first three rounds of the playoffs helping carry Nashville to the Final for the first time. Given two opportunities to commit to Rinne for Game 3, including one direct question, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said, “Pekka’s been excellent for us all year long” or a variation, and didn’t say yes.

“Pekka has been terrific through this entire playoffs”, Laviolette said. “We gotta be better”.

Beyond struggling with zone entries and generating off the rush, Pittsburgh addressed its effort in the game to that point and emphasized the need for a successful start to the third.

On Sunday, Jake Guentzel looked like a healthy scratch, the odd man out with Patric Hornqvist seemingly ready to return from an upper-body injury. “I believe all of them were odd, three-on-twos and two-on-ones makes it more hard”. He had a slap shot from Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban go off the inside of his left ankle in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win Wednesday night while on the ice helping kill a big penalty.

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The Penguins mustered only 12 shots in Game 1 but won, 5-3, because they made the most of the few scoring chances they had. “But we know the ultimate goal is two more wins and they’re going to be tough to get”.

Game 1 hero Jake Guentzel an out of nowhere star for the Penguins

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