Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Penguins will stick with Matt Murray for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. That sweep included two shutouts courtesy of our Finnish hero Pekka Rinne (who is unbelievable as long as he's not playing in Pittsburgh).

It ended with haymaker after haymaker - both literal and proverbial - from Sidney Crosby and the rest of the resilient Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins, with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, are a win away from raising the Cup for the second year in a row and the fifth time in team history.

"Understand that we're going to play a desperate team", said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after collecting three assists. "For us, this is our home, and putting the show together is about music and current events, and it all collided last night in our city, so we had to tell that story". Sure enough, Crosby got the assist.

Goalie change: Rinne, who endured a rough start to the series but found his rhythm the prior two games, was pulled for Juuse Saros to start the second period.

Two consecutive victories don't give coach Peter Laviolette belief that his Nashville Predators have momentum against the Pittsburgh Penguins going into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"I think this group of guys in here is good to just focus on the little things and getting the job done", Schultz said.

Heading into Nashville, Pittsburgh was leading the series 2-0 but the Predators won Games 3 and 4 and tied the series 2-2. He's stopped just 34 of 45 in Pittsburgh during the series. Crosby also set up Justin Schultz and the previously invisible Conor Sheary for goals. It was Crosby who sent the message - with his vision, his creativity and, oddly, his fists.

Much like the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, this game had two key elements: the Penguins' opportunism and Pekka Rinne faltering. "I think if I just make a save on that breakaway (on the third goal by Viktor Arvidsson) it's a different game".

Subban was asked after the game if Crosby deserved more for the foul. "(And whatever you think, Subban did not "[have] it coming", as Mike Milbury idiotically claimed.) Crosby is pushing Subban's head into the ice.

"He certainly had it going", Ron Hainsey, one of six Penguin goal-scorers, said of Crosby.

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"We definitely know what our identity is", defenseman P.K. Subban said. I don't know what he was trying to do. I was in some kind of lock he had going on there.

In doing so though, Crosby drove Subban's head into the ice several times with his right glove.

Ultimately, each was assessed a minor penalty for holding with 1:32 to play before the first intermission. "The first two games, we did a lot of good things".

Saros hardly fared any better.

You could brush off that one instance, but not long after in second period a water bottle that came from Crosby's arm flew from the bench onto the ice and the Penguins scored a goal soon after. After combining for zero points in Games 3 and 4, Malkin had a goal and an assist and Kessel a goal and two assists. It's just infuriating to see the National Hockey League have such blatant disregard for player health when it comes to the on-ice game.

Crosby missed all of one game.

The Predators are 9-1 at home in the playoffs, a place they will need to be a haven once again if they want to extend their improbable Cup run back to Pittsburgh.

"(Austin Watson) tried to block the shot and it just came through, and after that if you don't pick it up it's too late to react and unfortunately it went in", said Rinne of Schultz's tally.

A general view as fans cheer before game one of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Twenty-four of the Penguins' shots went on goal, and six of those reached the back of the net for a 25 percent conversion rate.

This may be the Predators' first time in the Stanley Cup Final, but they staved off elimination three times previous year in playing a full 14 games through two rounds. Crosby also moved into a tie with Denis Potvin for 19th on the all-time career playoff scoring list.

The home team has won every game in this series, and that may have been a big reason why the Pens played so well.


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