Predators goalie Rinne struggling as Pens take 2-0 lead

Friday, 02 Jun, 2017

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) looks back to find a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel in the goal during the third period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Nashville's Pontus Aberg introduced himself to the hockey world at large Wednesday night with a first-period goal to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Boston did the same thing against Vancouver in 2011, also a seven-game series.

None of that mattered when Guentzel struck again 10 seconds into the third, slamming home a juicy Rinne rebound.

Reporter: "From an X's and O's standpoint, what was it you guys did in Game 1 that stopped Pittsburgh from getting shots for so long?"

Rinne will have to rebound in a big way.

"We practice it all season. He leads through his play", said Sullivan.

The Predators, too, have offered plenty of proof that they aren't cooked. Rinne is now 1-6-2 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.

The Predators aren't of this series yet, but they sure need more from their aces, Subban, Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Roman Josi.

"I think he's had an opportunity to get a little bit of a second wind", Sullivan added. "I've played a long time, and the first time having a chance to play for the Cup, so I just think you have to bury these two games and move ahead, and just find a way to find some success". "We get to go out and play the game we love on the biggest stage". "All three goals in the third period were odd-man rushes". Aberg cut past him and to the front of the net, holding onto the puck before lifting a forehand past goalie Matt Murray for his second playoff goal.

Pittsburgh fans barely had time to celebrate the first Penguins goal of the third period before it was time to cheer for another. And for the second straight game the Penguins prevailed, taking flight toward a 4-1 victory when rookie Jake Guentzel ignited a third-period scoring spree that ended when previously impeccable Pekka Rinne was removed from the Predators' net in order to preserve what remained of his dignity. Malkin has nine goals and leads the playoffs in points with 26.

Defenseman P.K. Subban said after Game Two in Pittsburgh that his club would win Game Three and go from there.

"He seems pretty calm and cool on the outside", said Sidney Crosby, whose locker is next to Guentzel's. "We're all really excited". He's willing to do anything. "I can't get enough", said Williams.

Guentzel set a new rookie record with his fifth-game-winning goal of the playoffs and Chris Kunitz added two assists.

Rinne allowed four goals on 11 shots in Game One and has allowed 20 goals over his past six games after conceding just 16 over his first 11 playoff games. The Penguins certainly don't get by Washington either. This doesn't happen often: star on star fighting in the Cup Final. Plus, Malkin lost seven of eight faceoffs in that span. There hasn't been a single sweep since 1998, when Detroit wrapped up the league's last back-to-back titles by blanking Washington.

Rinne, the Predators' rock and backbone to their first-ever run to the Stanley Cup Final, unravelled for all of the Steel City to see in Game 2. Teams that open 2-0 are 34-3.

"It's obviously nice to get that right away, get a jump and get some energy in the building", said Penguins forward Matt Cullen. "We have emotions to keep going".

The Predators are going home for Game 3 to perhaps the loudest arena in hockey at the moment, where tickets on the secondary market are going for astronomical prices. As in full of holes.

The last team to win the Stanley Cup without a standout No. 1 centre was the Anaheim Ducks and Andy McDonald centred their first line. The Predators had more shots, were great on the penalty kill and had won more faceoffs. It hasn't mattered, however, as Matt Murray's been splendid and the Pittsburgh Penguins are converting on most of their chances.

No advanced math needed to figure out 2-0 either.