There was no penalty. Mired in an eight-game goal drought heading into the series, the 22-year-old Nebraskan provided the victor in Game 1 and again in Game 2 when he pounded home a rebound just 10 seconds into the third for his third of the series and 12th of the playoffs.
So, while not giving up a shot in the period, Nashville managed to get only one goal, from Ryan Ellis 8:21 into the period. After two games in this series, the defensemen have added two points, while the top line has failed to add a point.
Even if you subtract the own goals, the Preds' star stopper is really fighting the puck.
I'm choosing to ignore all the signs, because the more important factor to me is the inexplicable nature of game 1. His goal was the fastest to start a period in Penguins' playoff history. The Penguins lost 5-1 in Nashville last October, and the atmosphere will be much more intense this time around with a forecast that could include fan-tossed catfish.
Pekka Rinne has trended in the wrong direction with each round of the playoffs.
By Wednesday night, Guentzel emerged as the clear-cut favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy, the result of his two-goal effort in the Penguins' 4-1 win against the Predators at PPG Paints Arena. The Predators had 38 shots to the Penguins' 27, but Rinne allowed four goals on 25 shots and got the hook in favor of backup Juuse Saros in the third period. "We're going to learn from our mistakes and get better". "We want to score more". The only goal Murray allowed came in the first period when Pontus Aberg made a couple sensational moves and left Murray with no chance. But he has never started and won a game against the Penguins, and he has looked decidedly shaky, posting a.777 save percentage, in the first two games of the biggest series of his life. Rinne stopped a shot by Conor Sheary but the rebound came to Guentzel, who was in deep. Wilson was credited with his third of the playoffs just over 3 minutes later when a centering pass caromed off Nashville's Vernon Fiddler and by Rinne.
"This is his first year pro, coming out of college, where he's not used to playing the National Hockey League schedule, and the demands of that physically, not to mention a long playoff run", Sullivan said of Guentzel. "We need to be better in front of him". "There's things that we could've done - all three goals in the third period were odd-man rushes".
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"You have to put it behind you", Rinne said. "I think he's had an opportunity to get a little bit of a second wind".
Pittsburgh stayed in it thanks to Matt Murray (37 saves) and when Pittsburgh returned to the ice for the start of the third they, as coach Mike Sullivan is fond of saying, "got to their game".
"I just tried to make the next save, tried to hold them off as long as possible", Murray said.
But what are we here for if we can't call soft goals soft? Minutes later, Penguins forward Chris Kunitz became tangled up with P.K. Subban and ended up cross-checking Subban in the head, part of a sequence that saw Malkin go off for hooking. "We see what kind of group and character we have to bounce back".
A Subban blast with the ensuing power play would briefly hobble Penguins centre Nick Bonino, who tried crawling to the bench before later returning for the second period.
The game was now tied at 3 and Nashville still hadn't given up a shot to Pittsburgh for 1 and 3/4 of a period. Pittsburgh made no lineup changes, meaning LW Carl Hagelin was a healthy scratch.
Guentzel, who snapped an eight-game goalless drought when he pumped the victor by Rinne with 3:17 left in the series opener, tied it later in the period.