He didn't just breakthrough - he backhanded through with a stunning goal in the first period of Game 5. Nashville Predators' Viktor Arvidsson (38) and Pittsburgh Penguins' Carl Hagelin (62) trade punches during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.
The night started with a catfish throw.
It ended with haymaker after haymaker - both literal and proverbial - from the ever resilient Pittsburgh Penguins.
Nearly exactly one year ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted a Game 6 watch party at their home arena to root on the black and gold from the Steel City as they played in San Jose. "We did a good job of that and got rewarded for it".
So do the Predators, who can't get back to Smashville fast enough. But this was a total team meltdown, and Nashville coach Peter Laviolette was careful not to place too much blame on his netminder when asked what he said to Rinne after a game like this.
"He sees the opportunity in front of us, and he's doing everything within his power to try to help us be successful", Sullivan said. The goal was the first of three in the period, but it was Crosby's effort that got everybody juiced up.
Much like the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, this game had two key elements: the Penguins' opportunism and Pekka Rinne faltering.
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"It's just one of those things it slipped out of my hand", Crosby said. "I know you're not allowed to do that, so I'm not going to start doing it in the Stanley Cup Final". Our guys have a tremendous amount of confidence him.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as he has for each of the last two springs when his team finds itself in a tight spot, pushed all the right buttons again. The shot total was tied at nine, but the Penguins converted three of those to complete their best period in three games. There were two strong back-to-back stops, in particular, on James Neal shortly after Bryan Rust scored the second Pittsburgh goal.
Wilson took part in the team's morning skate at PPG Paints Arena and came off before P-A Parenteau, who said he would not play. Nashville hasn't been tested under pressure in these playoffs and haven't played an elimination game. "I think that's something in our 60-minute game that we haven't been able to get to, but it's something we did tonight".
Then things got chippy (and a little weird) for the game's best player. Toward the end of the period, Crosby pinned P.K. Subban down behind the net and bounced his head off the ice. Crosby then got on top of Subban and used his right hand, and eventually left glove, to repeatedly push Subban's head into the ice. Crosby set up Sheary in the low slot for a 4-0 Penguins lead at 1:19. It did seem unusual to see Rinne let in that many goals in one game, but it was a unique high scoring game with six goals being scored by one team. The score had been predicted by Malkin and it came just seconds after Crosby threw a water bottle onto the ice as the play went by Pittsburgh's bench, a move he told referees was unintentional. It took 907 career games before Hainsey would reach the playoffs and at times, including Game's 3 and 4 in Nashville, has looked slow and more of a liability for Pittsburgh than an asset. Besides, of the four Stanley Cup's Pittsburgh has won, all four have been clinched on the road... but stats don't matter. A shot at a fifth awaits Sunday, though it'll hardly be easy.
An eighth round pick of the Preds way back in 2004, Rinne has been excellent at home throughout the playoffs with a 9-1 record and.949 save percentage.
Subban's comments were bland, of the "I'm not a ref" variety. "It's about going back and forth".
There's the third Stanley Cup - one more than mentor and team owner Mario Lemieux - and the chance to lead the first repeat Cup champs in the salary cap era and first in nearly 20 years.
The home team has won each of the first five games of the Final for just the 12th time since the National Hockey League went to a best-of-seven series in the final round in 1939, and for the first time since 2011. The teams combined for 100 penalty minutes (58 for Nashville, 42 for Pittsburgh).
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