Nashville captured Games 3 and 4 in front of a raucous home crowd and did so, in part, by continuing to stifle the two-headed offensive monster that lines up behind Sidney Crosby. A shot by Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin gets past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) for a goal during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.
Home ice advantage has meant everything in this Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins capturing the first two games in the friendly confines of PPG Paints Arena and the Predators holding serve with a pair of wins at a raucous Bridgestone Arena.
Saros relieved Rinne to start the second, but Pittsburgh upped its lead to 4-0 just 1:19 into the period on Sheary's goal from Crosby.
"It's a good game but it's still not done", Malkin said. Crosby missed one game with a concussion, but at the time there was no way to know how long he'd be out of action. Letang is a calming presence on Pittsburgh's back end and plays almost 30 minutes per game. "I certainly wanted to hit some milestones that my dad has and surpass them".
Only one other player in National Hockey League history scored each of his first three career goals (regular season and playoffs) in the Stanley Cup Final when Chicago's John Harms did it in 1944 against Montreal.
Wilson, 27, led the Predators in playoff scoring the last two years, with five goals in six first-round games in 2015 aand 13 points in 14 games last year. Murray, on the other hand, is coming off two consecutive losses and has never lost three in a row since entering the National Hockey League.
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Shooooooooooooooot! Pekka Rinne appears to be back in full form, so to win the Penguins must get shots to the net. "But now it's time. We're going to have to do those little things, key things, blocking shots, getting pucks in and out, and making sure that you're not extending your shifts - keeping it short so everybody can stay fresh and we can play that up-tempo game that we want to play". With just 91 shots over the first four games in the series that comes out to be 22.75 shots for per game, the fewest of any team in any playoff series this year. In back-to-back playoffs, he's also added 42 points in 47 games for the Penguins including 22 in 24 games on their way to the Stanley Cup in 2015-16. "And that's just going to be like (that)". Once again, he is the favourite to win the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff's most valuable player.
It was a unsafe play from a player who should probably know better based on his own concussion history, however, it illustrated the kind of attitude Crosby had brought to what was a pivotal Game 5. Ellis had a seven-game points streak this postseason. He's as hungry as I've seen a player, and I just think he understands it. Nashville has owned the run of play in both arenas, but Pittsburgh has capitalized on its chances.
"He can get down low and hang onto pucks and really be physical offensively", Predators winger Austin Watson said. "The goal is to make the playoffs and win the Cup, and now we're one of two teams to have the chance for it". The unit went 0-6 in the two defeats, but generated more in the latter loss. But his performances in Pittsburgh will be cause for concern if the series heads to a Game 7. They knew they would be starting on the road in every series, and the Predators responded by winning the opener of their first three series.
"We believe that we have some guys that are due to score some goals here", Sullivan said Tuesday.
"You have to find the point of when a player is healthy enough to get back in the lineup and when they're not healthy enough to get back and be able to contribute and play at a level that is needed right now at this point in the season", said Laviolette.