When you think about how many weapons the Penguins have for their power-play units, that’s a startling statistic.
Yet, they lead the series 2-0, following a familiar script.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ frustrations were obvious during Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Malkin sounded anxious late Saturday night. It was how they lost. It can happen, and Pittsburgh can afford to lose one.
Nashville also got the benefit of puck luck that worked for the Penguins in the first two games. In my opinion, they rely nearly too much on Crosby and Malkin, even though they have plenty of other talents that can easily pick up the slack. No shots. No shot attempts for the Conn Smythe favourite. Nashville’s All-Star defenseman knows only that he apparently needs to work on his breath on the ice and loves the challenge of helping shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It was a amusing moment that drew laughs when he said it on TV and repeated it later, but Crosby said it never happened.
And that’s reason for the Penguins to wonder.
Penguins after a loss: The Penguins are 13-2 under coach Mike Sullivan the last two years in the playoffs after a defeat while goaltender Matt Murray is 9-0 – including 7-0 when he’s the goalie who took the loss. “Anybody who paid the price of admission to watch the game, I’m sure it was money well spent for them”. We found looks we liked. It’s my line too. “It’s like first time in my career we can’t score like that”. We need to keep composure and pull out with the win. “Why I don’t know. We’ve certainly got to figure this out as a group and I believe we will”. “And our forwards (are) doing a great job getting pucks to us, and yeah, tipping pucks, getting screens from that, and our job is just to get the puck through”. We control puck, but no shots. They have three on 13 opportunities overall, thanks to a 5-on-3 power play for the first goal of the series.
The 6-foot-5 Finn looked so shaky in the first two games, giving up eight goals on just 36 shots. For the first time this post-season, the Penguins came unhinged and Nashville took advantage. “Not a whole bunch of time for that right now”, he said. When things get a little hairy, just breathe.
“I have no room”.
“I have no idea”, Malkin said. I don’t always pay attention to them. When Ryan Ellis was given a minor for boarding Jake Guentzel at 16:37 of the second period, Calle Jarnkrok enjoyed the best scoring chance of the two-minute sequence when he cut into the slot.
P.K. Subban guaranteed a game 3 win, and the Predators delivered. They completely neutralized Crosby and Malkin.
Smith became the 18 different Nashville player with a playoff goal.
Malkin is plus-150 to win the trophy, Guentzel is plus-400, Murray is plus-550 and Crosby is plus-650, according to OddsShark. Without that, they have no real chance. What this game does now is set up a huge game for both sides on Monday night.
“We have to change that”, said Crosby. But he really showed off his Predators pride when he flashed the back of his guitar that had been painted the team’s colors of gold, navy blue and white, displaying the words “Go Preds”.
The good news for the Penguins, though, is that if Matt Murray’s short history as a goaltender in the National Hockey League is any indication, he’ll return with a sterling effort in Game 4.