Sports

Penguins' soft-spoken Malkin lets play speak for itself

Penguins' soft-spoken Malkin lets play speak for itself

The Penguins power play has been a huge strength this season, but it betrayed them during Game 2.

Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray stopped 37 of 38 Nashville shots while waiting for the top offense in this year's playoffs to kick in. They are likely to build a lead and force the Penguins to play catch-up.

Nashville were oozing confidence at the start of the week given an impressive playoff run in which they beat two division winners in Chicago and Anaheim, and a 99-point St. Louis team to reach their first Stanley Cup Final.

Nashville was leading Pittsburgh in shots at the time 8-3. Only after they had the game well in hand and held a 4-1 lead did they punch back.

Weekes: Rinne obviously needs to step up to give his team any chance to win.

The floodgates are open in Pittsburgh.

The barrage started with rookie Jake Guentzel. Just 15 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin converted on an odd-man rush to make it 4-1, and Peter Laviolette finally saw enough, pulling Rinne in favor of promising (but inexperienced) goalie Juuse Saros.

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The series shifts to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday night, and the Predators need a reversal of fortune if they are going to keep this series competitive. Still considered a rookie, Matt Murray joined a short list of players to reach 20 wins in the postseason before their 24th birthday. Later in the frame, Subban dropped the gloves with Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin, though neither player connected with any punches. Two of the biggest stars in hockey tussled against the boards with 7:46 left in a game Pittsburgh had taken over.

The best and last chance for Nashville to change the tenor of this series might be to switch goaltenders for Game 3.

In the third period of Game 2, the Preds' hope turned into dread in an instant - or, to be precise, in 10 seconds, which is how long it took Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel to score the go-ahead goal.

Jake Guentzel once again had the game victor for the Penguins, this time just 10 seconds into the third period.

Chris Kunitz had two assists for the Penguins for a second game in a row. He has found his touch at the right time for Pittsburgh, which leads the Final 1-0.

Murray, who had the crowd chanting his name after stretching out to rob Filip Forsberg of a surefire goal, redeemed himself as the game wore on.

"I think we were pretty confident going into the third period", said the Penguins' Conor Sheary.

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Now the Predators have to worry about the series slipping away.

Scoring more goals and firing more shots than any team during the regular season, Pittsburgh is certainly capable offensively and especially opportunistic in the playoffs with goals on 11 per cent of their shots.

His five game-winning goals are more than all of the Penguins' rookies since the start of the 2000 playoffs have produced - combined.

The score was knotted at 1-1 through two periods after goals from Pontus Aberg and Guentzel. They are not steamrolling opponents like last spring-goalie Matt Murray needed to make 37 saves in Game 2-though ascribing a rope-a-dope strategy doesn't quite fit either. The Penguins were looking to come to Nashville with a two-game win streak.

And no catfish have been thrown on the ice so far. Guentzel's deception and release were key to the goal. That goal made it 4-1, and made it tough for the Preds to not go back to Tennessee down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne sits on the bench after being pulled during the third period in Game 2 of the team's NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Bonino, who scored in Game 1, took the puck to the left foot or ankle and could not put weight on it as he was helped off the ice.

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