Penguins one win from second straight Stanley Cup after thrashing Predators

Kristopher Nichols
June 11, 2017

Sidney Crosby put on a show in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, but his brilliant night was overshadowed by some out-of-character behaviour.Crosby pushed the Penguins one step closer to another Stanley Cup with three assists in the 6-0 win Thursday.

He appeared to rediscover his form in Games 3 and 4, allowing one goal in each game and totaling 50 saves to help Nashville even the series at 2-2.

In Game 5, for the first time in the Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins generated significantly more high-grade five-on-five scoring chances than they allowed. However, he chose to return the favor for his team, and offer up a gift of his own for his Penguins.

Rinne, the playoff leader in wins and goals-against average, rebounded in a big way for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville, limiting Pittsburgh to a just two goals on 52 shots as the Predators evened the series. The final tally of high-danger chances, as measured by naturalstattrick.com, was 11-3 in favor of the Penguins - better than 13-10 in Game 4 and a far cry from Nashville's 6-2 margin in Game 1. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will likely have the chance to repeat as champions, and should get two chances to do so.

Crosby, on the game's first shift, carried the puck over the blue line and bulled his way through strong Nashville defensive pair Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.

"Right now our backs are against the wall, and this is our opportunity and I think you try to do anything in your power and prepare the best you can for this one", Rinne said.

Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray not only avoided losing three straight games for the first time in his career, but he also stopped 24 shots for his second shutout of these playoffs, the third in the postseason of his career. He drew a holding penalty against Ellis while ringing a shot off the left post. The Penguins have come within two games of the first team to capture consecutive Cups in almost two decades due in large part to their resiliency. We've got good players.

The NHL will get a seven-game Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2011, when the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks.

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In that 2011 final, the Bruins fell behind with two losses in Vancouver to rebound with a couple of dominant wins at home, only to be foiled in Game 5 by Roberto Luongo in a 1-0 shutout win for the Canucks. Seriously, he was all over the ice, and should have won over plenty of new fans on Thursday night. Now, Crosby has certainly had his share of taking brutal hits during the playoffs, but taking all of his frustrations out on Subban's head was indefensible. Hainsey's first appearance in the National Hockey League playoffs has been memorable. So when these guys play a committed, inspired game the way they do and they execute, then their talent and their instincts are going to take over; and when they do that, they're hard to defend. But he does believe they have an advantage with the series down to a best-of-three and two of the games of the road.

All four of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cups have been clinched on the road with Chicago the last team to win the Cup on home ice back in 2015.

The situation is familiar to the Penguins and their fans.

Still, such a decisive victory might indicate that the Penguins have figured out the best plan of attack against the Predators.

How many thought the Anaheim Ducks were going to rebound after losses to the Edmonton Oilers in Games 5 and 6, including a 7-1 drubbing in the latter, to take Game 7 in the second-round series?

The 27-year-old forward scored 12 goals in the regular season for Nashville. He took a P.K. Subban shot off his left foot/ankle in Game 2. "That hasn't changed", Sullivan said.

The series was tied 2-2.

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