Mitch Linsley, Dump & Change | June 3rd, 2017
NASHVILLE, TN – The tide began to turn in this Stanley Cup Final as the Nashville Predators were finally able to snag that ever-elusive first win in the finals. In front of a crowd that was absolutely rocking all night in addition to 50 thousand-plus fans packed in the streets surrounding Bridgestone Arena, the Preds made it very clear that this might turn out to a be a series.
The first few minutes indicated much of the same was to come as Jake Guentzel scored his 13th playoff goal this season on a rebound from Ian Cole that came from Crosby. One more goal and the 22 year old from Woodbury owns the record for most goals by a rookie in one postseason, passing Dino Cicarelli’s mark set in 1981. The rest of game 3 told a different story. Concerns about the play of Pekka Rinne disappeared as he played out of his mind last night, stopping quality chances from the Penguins snipers all night and improving his record at home to 8-1 in the postseason.
The second frame was all Nashville as the Preds got a powerplay early on that saw Roman Josi notch his 6th of the postseason on a point bomb from Jarnkrok and Eckholm. Then just 47 seconds later, Frederick Gaudreau notches his 2nd of the playoffs assisted by Watson and Josi. Pretty sure thid goal came as they were announcing the Josi goal, talk about shooting to kill. Nashville kept the pressure on all period long and successfully shut down multiple chances from Pittsburgh that could have easily tied this game up. Former Penguin James Neal got one past Murray, putting Nashville up 3-1 with just over 20 seconds to play in the period. Roman Josi had a monster second period, contributing on all 3 goals. In what was his best game of the finals so far, he solidified himself as an elite offensive defenseman. Fellow Swiss blueliner Mattias Eckholm had an unreal game as well. These two are playing lights out together, maybe its because they can speak german together on the ice and no one understands them, who knows? I’ve been trying to come up with a nickname for these two but the Swiss Army Line is the best I can think of so far so if you have something better, inbox me on twitter.
Nashville got off to a hot start again with Craig Smith scoring unassisted due to an awful turnover by Chris Kunitz and Phil Kessel in neutral ice, Mike Sullivan could not have been happy about that one. Later on, Eckholm added his first in the playoffs on the powerplay from Jarnkrok and Sissons putting the game out of reach at 5-1 late in regulation. The Predators defenseive group was on fire all night. Nashville has the best blue line in the league and I’d love to hear someone argue me on that. Tempers flared late as Hornqvist and Eckholm were taking shots at each other, earning game misconducts. Pittsburgh’s frustration became even more obvious soon after. Just minutes later more misconducts were handed out to Kunitz, Cullen and Watson with just over 3 minutes to play. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects game 4. When Matt Cullen gets ejected from a finals game, you know things are getting chippy. The Preds ended up winning 5-1 which had to feel good after outplaying Pittsburgh for 5 of 6 Periods on the road and coming home empty handed. A total of 4 catfish hit the ice as fans were going absolutely nuts in game 3. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a building below the Mason Dixon lin get so loud for a hockey game in my life. PK Subban mixed it up with Crosby and Guentzel late, then when asked what Sid said to him, PK smirked and said, “He told me my breath smelled bad but I don’t know what he’s talking about because I used some listerine before the game.” Absolutely legendary. Future article: Is PK Subban secretly being paid by listerine to compensate for no pay in the postseason? Dump & Change will have to investigate that one.
The Penguins are obviously not happy about getting blwon out on the road and need to really buckle down and prepare for game 4. Evgeni Malkin was so pissed after the game he almost swung his stick as the Preds fan heading down the tunnel (image below). Not a good look, Geno. Although Matt Murray let up 5 goals (more than Nashville had in games 1 and 2 combined ) I think he’ll still get the nod over Marc-Andre Fleury on Monday night. I would hardly say he sieved out because Nashville was playing lights out all night. I still I don’t think anyone gets suspended for the late game shenanigans but it’s never a smart move to take a 10 minute penalty with 3 minutes to go. I would imagine all players who took misconducts will get a fine and that’s it. Game 4 is without a doubt the biggest game of this series and I’m excited to see how Pittsburgh responds or if the Preds can keep their foot on the gas. I really do think whoever wins this next one will take the whole series.
Many of my pre-series predictions are coming into fruition. The over hit (+115) as 6 goals we’re scored, Nashville won against the spread (+190) for the first time all finals and won the moneyline (-140) as well. This series has been an over series and I don’t see that changing. My guess at this point is these teams go back to Pennsylvania tied at 2. Nashville was on fire all night and those fans are gonna be louder and crazier as this thing drags on. They were chanting “Murray Murray, you suck, it’s all your fault” all 2nd and 3rd period. Seriously, I couldn’t even hear Doc and Eddy half the time because the crowd was so loud. These fans definitely put some juice into their team, no doubt. I’m extremely jealous of anyone in Smashville right now. The whole city looks like a giant block party, with big names putting on free concerts and every bar in town just going bonkers. Other than Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban having the worst/most awkward goal celebration ever on national television, it’s absolute bananaland down there. Anybody who questioned the passion of these fans are now silenced. You heard it here first; Nashville, Tennessee is a hockey market.