Stanley Cup Final: Jake Guentzel leads Penguins to 2-0 series lead

06 Juin, 2017, 10:58 | Author: Marie-Claire Cellier
  • Nashville Predators fans watch the Predators play the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at a viewing areas set up across the street from Bridgestone Arena Monday

Pittsburgh RW Patric Hornqvist redirected the puck past G Juuse Saros at 6:48 of the third on a power play, but the goal was waved off after a review determined the Penguins were offside. Sensing their opponent was on the ropes and bleeding, the Penguins delivered the knockout punch 15 seconds afterwards on a shot that went crossbar-down from Evgeni Malkin. He has scored the winning goal in each of the first two games of the Final and his 12 goals are the second-highest total by a rookie in a playoff season and the most by an American-born rookie.

Then, 3 minutes, 13 seconds into the third, Scott Wilson scored when a centering pass caromed off Predators center Vernon Fiddler. He got the Predators to this point and went into the series as an MVP favorite, but allowed four goals on 11 shots in Game 1 and then got the hook in Game 2.

Jake Guentzel scored 10 seconds into the third period to put Pittsburgh in front.

Nashville will get the next two games at home, but Game 3 is a must-win for the Predators or they'll fall down a three-game hole to the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Pekka Rinne expunges subpar performances by visualizing good ones, and he has had plenty for Nashville in these playoffs. Malkin later mixed it up with Predators defenseman P.K. Subban as things got chippy with the game out of hand.

Game 3 at Nashville is 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.

It was the morning of Game 2, but the Nashville Predators goalie was somewhere else entirely.

The teams come off a freakish Game 1 that featured a questionable offside review wiping out a goal by P.K. Subban, a Predators fan throwing a catfish onto the ice and the Penguins enduring a 37-minute shot drought and scoring the victor on the next shot they took. Sure, two of them deflected off defenders' legs and another was a 5-on-3 goal, but clearly, Rinne has played his worst hockey of the postseason in these last two games.

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"I think we're a scrappy group", Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after Pittsburgh's 4-1 win in Game 2.

For the most part, the blue liners aren't great skaters, so they have to move the puck.

For Nashville to make a comeback, someone has to step up and get the offense going.

Guentzel set a new rookie record with his fifth-game-winning goal of the playoffs and Chris Kunitz added two assists. And while the Predators desperately need Rinne to rebound and return to form, they also need a way to keep Guentzel, who has three goals in the series, off the scoresheet.

He now leads the National Hockey League with 12 goals this postseason (three more than any other player) and an nearly unbelievable five game-winning goals. But he has never started and won a game against the Penguins, and he has looked decidedly shaky, posting a.777 save percentage, in the first two games of the biggest series of his life. "But you have to put those things behind you and focus on what you can control". The Predators had 18 shots in the first 20 minutes and the teams ended the period tied at 1-1. We're down 2-nothing. We're coming back in our barn, and we don't lose here. In eight regular-season matchups against Pittsburgh, Rinne is 1-5-2 with a.880 save percentage. "All three goals in the third period we can do something better". Defensively, the Pittsburgh Penguins are allowing 2.8 goals per game and are killing 79.8 percent of their power play chances.

"It's insane. You can't even put into words what it feels like", said Guentzel, a native of Omaha.

But for Pittsburgh this isn't Columbus, the victim of a gentleman's sweep despite outshooting Pittsburgh; this isn't Washington, which eventually succumbed to its own internal demons in Game 7; it's not Ottawa, which Pittsburgh solved as the series went on. The Predators rallied to tie before Guentzel's go-ahead goal with 3:17 remaining put the Penguins ahead to stay.

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