Nashville (0-1) at Pittsburgh (1-0)
When: Wednesday, May 31st 2017
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC
The Nashville Predators will look to play the same type of game the second time around, but this time with a better result. Nashville thoroughly outplayed the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but were on the short-end of a 5-3 setback as they regroup for Game 2 on Wednesday night. “I thought our guys played great,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after Monday’s game. “We hate the score, we hate the result, but we’ll move forward.” Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville’s Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory on Monday night. Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champs escape after blowing a three-goal lead. Nick Bonino scored twice including an empty-netter, Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin notched his eighth goal. Pittsburgh used the first coach’s challenge in Finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an amazing 37:09 without a shot on goal. Netminder Matt Murray finished with 23 saves for Pittsburgh, who are coming off two-straight seven game series. Captain Sidney Crosby is looking to become the first player to win the goal-scoring title and a Stanley Cup in the same season since Wayne Gretzky (1986-87).
Nashville was playing their first Finals game in franchise history and were not intimidated by the big stage, the crowd, or the defending champions. P.K. Subban appeared to put the Predators up 1-0 in the first period, but Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier alerted the bench of the infraction that saw Nashville forward Filip Forsberg’s skate was up in the air as he brought the puck into the zone, making it an offsides. That seemed to deflate the Predators a bit, who committed two bad penalties late in the period to give Pittsburgh a 5-on-3, which Malkin converted and then Sheary a minute later. Ryan Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in Stanley Cup history midway through the second period, as Nashville kept Pittsburgh from recording a single shot in the middle period. The Predators didn’t give up, getting third period goals from Colton Sissons and Fredrick Gaudreau to tie it up before Guentzel’s eventual game-winner. Rinne, who has helped the Predators get to this point, stopped just seven shots in Game 1 as the Nashville blue-line did their job. Sissons continues to shine in place of injured No. 1 center Ryan Johansen with four goals in two games while center Mike Fisher returned from injury to collect two assists – his first points of the playoffs.
I expect more of the same out of Nashville as they continue to frustrate the Penguins offense. Rinne let up a couple of soft goals in Game 1 and I don’t see that happening again. I predict Nashville will steal Game 2 and head back home with a 1-1 series tie.
Pick: Predators +130
HEAD TO HEAD
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