Mitch Linsley, Dump & Change. May 30th, 2017 8:00am
“It wasn’t pretty but we were able to hold them off there at the end”, said Penguins starting goaltender Matt Murray, who was tasked with holding off the Predators for second and third periods where his teammates, until the very end, couldn’t register a shot on goal in an eventual 5-3 victory over the Nashville.
Boy is that an understatement.
From the end of the first period to 3:17 left in regulation, the defending Stanley Cup champions slowly watched their 3-0 lead dissipate as the team collectively played what many Pens fans would call their worst game all season.
After goals from Malkin, Sheary and Bonino put the Penguins up 3 after the first period, goals from Nashville’s Ellis in the second period and Sissons and Gaudreau in the third tied the game with just over 6 minutes left in the third period.
The Penguins couldn’t get anything going. Other than Murray’s play, Pittsburgh looked like a disaster and the team was visibly more frustrated after every shotless shift. For 37 minutes, the Nashville Predators absolutely dominated Pittsburgh in every facet on the game, not allowing even a shot on goal. Pekka Rinne could have been a hologram the entire second period and nobody would have known.
With 3 minutes and 17 seconds left in the 3rd period, everything changed. After being moved to the fourth line with Patrik Hornqvist returning from injury to the Crosby line, rookie Jake Guentzel notched a beauty of a goal on Pekka Rinne who looked like he had cobwebs on him. He hadn’t scored all conference final and feared he would be a healthy scratch it game 1. The eventual game winner was Guentzel’s 10th goal of the playoffs (leads NHL) and 4th game winner of the postseason, the most by a rookie in NHL history. The Woodbury native and former Hill-Murray standout tore it up in the NHL and AHL all season. He really turned on the jets and the start of the postseason and hasn’t looked back. Sorry Sid, there’s a new kid in town.
The Penguins scored 5 goals on just 12 shots (that’s over 42%) on a Pekka Rinne who looked very human compared to the Conn Smythe frontrunner we’ve seen all postseason. I hate blaming goaltenders but you have to put a lot of this on Rinne. If your team is holding the defending champions shotless for THIRTY SEVEN straight minutes, you have to come out with a W.
Nashville played lights out, shutdown hockey for the entire second and third period only to have their hearts ripped out with 3 minutes left in regulation. Nashville didn’t get much help from the refs either. PK Subban had a goal overturned in the first period on a bullshit offsides call stemming from a coach’s challenge. NBC showed the play 100 times in slow motion and there’s no way he was offsides. Absolute crap from the league there; someone from Toronto’s gotta step in on that one. That goal would have put Nashville up 1-0.
It’ll be interesting to see how Nashville responds. This is the largest psychological test the Predators have faced all postseason, dominating an entire game and having it stolen from you. As a Vikings fan I gotta feel for ‘em there.
- (PIT) Sheary (3) from Kunitz and Crosby (Power Play)
- (PIT) Bonino (3) from Dumoulin
- (NSH) Ellis (5) from Subban and Fisher (Power Play)
- (NSH) Sissons (6) from Josi and Jarnkrok (Power Play)
- (NSH) Gaudreau (1) from Watson and Fisher
- (PIT) Guentzel (10) from Cullen and Schultz
- (PIT) Bonino (4) from Kunitz (Empty Net)
5-3 is the final score. Over/under was 5.5 so the over hit at +125, like I told you it would.
Pens (-1.5) hit at +190. You’re a savage if you took that.
Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night in Pittsburgh at 7pm central, 8pm eastern.
Mitch Linsley, Dump & Change.