Rinne had tried on the ice, but the problem, once more, was the Pittsburgh Penguins, who blitzed Rinne for three quick third-period goals in a 4-1 rout at PPG Paints Arena. After recording the game-winner in Monday’s series opener, Guentzel scored Pittsburgh’s first two goals on Wednesday night, giving him an NHL-leading five game-winning playoff goals and 19 points in the postseason, the most of any American-born rookie in National Hockey League history. Seconds after an own goal off the left skate of Nashville’s Vern Fiddler that was credited to Scott Wilson, Evgeni Malkin beat Rinne to give Pittsburgh a three-goal lead.
Trying for their second Stanley Cup win in a row, the Penguins again host the Predators for Game 2 on Wednesday night (local time in the US). Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, left, and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Phil Kessel (81) watch the puck land in the back of the net on a goal by Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin, during the third period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stan. He shut out the potent Chicago offense twice, and allowed just three goals on 126 shots across four games.
Under siege through two periods, Pens goalie Matt Murray held down the fort until Pittsburgh took over in the third, and he finished with 37 saves.
It was enough for Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to send in back-up goalie Juuse Saros to replace Rinne, who had stopped 21 of 25 shots. That gave Pittsburgh as many shots as it had in Game 1. It was Guentzel’s 12th goal of the playoffs, which is the most of any American-born rookie in playoff history and just two behind Dino Ciccarelli’s all-time rookie record of 14.
Despite the struggles, Pittsburgh appeared to get a lift from Nick Bonino, who hobbled to the locker room early in the game after taking a P.K. Subban slap shot off the left foot.
The Penguins had difficulty maintaining momentum with several poor power plays. I think he’s played terrific.
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. Since Mike Sullivan took over behind the Penguins’ bench in December 2015, his team has dropped four of five on just two occasions-immediately after former coach Mike Johnston’s firing and during a four-game slide this March that included two shootout losses. To say they’ve been terrible would be taking it a step too far, but just one step. He has clearly outplayed Rinne in the first two games of the series.
“You have to put it behind you”, Rinne said. “We get to go out and play the game we love on the biggest stage”. In Game 2, they had as many shots in the first period (12) as they did total in the previous game.
Pittsburgh’s inability to break out has limited its scoring chances and cashing in on finally getting the puck moving on the rush is what broke the stalemate early in the third.
A style that now has the Penguins two victories away from history.
“He’s not the biggest guy, but he plays bigger than he is and he’s got great skill”, Crosby said of Guentzel, who’s listed at a seemingly generous 180 pounds.
This series is not over yet, but if the Preds’ don’t respond in game three at home it will be. Aberg took the puck between the legs of Olli Maatta and then had the patience to wait for Matt Murray to panic.
Nashville dropped Game 1 on Monday 5-3 despite holding Pittsburgh without a shot on goal for 37 consecutive minutes. In the first two games against the Penguins, Rinne’s save percentage has been.778.
The series now shifts to Nashville for the next two games, starting with Saturday night’s Game 3. He took a ton of heat for putting Murray back in the net during the Eastern Conference final after Fleury had played so well, but it was clearly the right decision, as hard as it must have been to make. Harry Zolnierczyk laced them up with the ’05-07 Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Matt Irwin was a defenceman for the Nanaimo Clippers from ’04-08, and Brad Hunt won an RBC Cup with the Burnaby Express in ’07.