June 28, 2017

Blowouts more common than close games in Stanley Cup Final

11 June 2017, 08:32 | Jackie Morgan

Pittsburgh Penguins' Bryan Rust (17) celebrates his team's 6-0 victory over the Nashville Predators with goalie Matt Murray (30) after Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Murray didn't make the crucial save when he needed to, whereas Rinne was there time and again with the kinds of spectacular saves that both inspired his team and sent the crowd into a frenzy. The rest of his teammates might not have even been in the same state, much less city.

As the Penguins were skating down the ice on their way to the fifth goal of Game 5, a very unusual play happened. He lasted just two shifts into the second period before he went to the bench in pain. We're playing against a good team. I know I'm repeating myself here, but their 24 shots in Game 4 is their most in any game of the series.

Maybe, but Nashville appeared a step quicker in its home building, pouring in nine goals and handing Penguins goalie Matt Murray the first back-to-back playoff losses of his young career. Even Ron Hainsey scored. Then there's the attraction of the Penguins looking to become the first team to repeat as Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. On Thursday night, the chirps between the two advanced to physicality when they got tangled behind the goal line, and Crosby pushed Subban's head into the ice several times. "It's going to be a battle going in there and we need to steal one in their arena". "We had good communication in our zone working the puck out quick and with speed". "Right now, our mission is to win Game 6 and then come back and play the best game of the series". The home team has won each game in the series. Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky are the only players to captain back-to-back Cup winners in the last three decades - an esteemed group Crosby would join with one more win in Nashville on Sunday night.

In doing so though, Crosby drove Subban's head into the ice several times with his right glove. In fact, the Pens scored six of them and they set the tone early.

Ultimately, each was assessed a minor penalty for holding with 1:32 to play before the first intermission.

"No, desperation typically wins games and I think we're a desperate team and they are too, so it's going to be an interesting game. We continued to do that". Nashville won its two at home by a combined 9-2. Kessel had two shots on goal in Game 4 and three in Game 3 but was a minus-2 in each game.

Rinne, who had also been pulled in Game 2 and has a.755 save percentage in the three Cup Final games held in Pittsburgh, was replaced by Juuse Saros to start the second period.

That was just Game 7 in the second round. Sullivan's confidence in the 23-year-old has rarely wavered, and Murray justified that belief on Thursday night. They watched on TV as Malkin's wrist shot with 10 seconds left in the first gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 edge it never came close to giving up. The Penguins kept attacking. I really don't understand the call.

But Malkin and Kessel couldn't steal the spotlight from Crosby.

"In playoffs, I think your mindset is different than in the regular season".

"We know how to hit the reset button". And when he's vocal, it pushes you to be better.

The Penguins' power play had been 1-for-16 in the series and 0-for-13 over the previous three games. The Penguins have played the entire postseason without their top defenseman.

Life is good for the Predators and their legions of fans that now find themselves in a best-of-three mini-series to win the Cup.

The Predators have history on their side for Game 6. Now, they have to do it again.

"[A 6-0 loss] is hard, but it's only one loss and you have to put it behind you", says Duanic.

A position of strength could turn into a position of weakness. Evgeni Malkin wrapped up the first period scoring with just 11 seconds left in the period.

Season-ending injuries to Ryan Johansen in the Western Conference Final and Kevin Fiala in the second round, plus prolonged injuries to Craig Smith and Mike Fisher have allowed for role players to not only help, but star during Nashville's improbable Stanley Cup run. "Not that I will".

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