By Mary Cunningham

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have a chance to become the first franchise in 19 years to win back-to-back Stanley Cups when the series shifts back to Nashville for Game 6 on Sunday night.

That was the emphatic end to last night’s stunning 6-0 victory over the Preds.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin scored during a first-period barrage against Pekka Rinne that sent the Nashville goaltender to the bench for the rest of the night, all the good feelings he created during victories in Games 3 and 4 gone.

Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel — just as linemate Malkin had predicted — and the 35-year-old playoff newcomer Ron Hainsey also scored for the Penguins. The Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby’s night included three assists, a two-minute roughing penalty for trying to dribble Nashville defenseman P. K. Subban’s head on the ice near the end of the first period, and a flip of a water bottle onto the ice during play.


Matt Murray bounced back from so-so performances during Pittsburgh’s lost weekend in Nashville to make 24 stops while also benefiting from a dominant performance by the players in front of him.

It took all of 91 seconds for Pittsburgh to get its swagger back.

Just that much time had elapsed after a Nashville fan flipped a catfish onto the PPG Paints Arena ice — a move that, in Game 1, came shortly before a three-goal outburst by Nashville — when Schultz powered home a slap shot to end an 0-for-12 power-play skid. Rust made the score 2-0 just 6 minutes 43 seconds into the game with a nasty backhand flip over Rinne’s glove.

Then things got chippy (and a little weird) for the game’s best player. Crosby and Subban became tangled behind the Nashville net late in the first period, with Crosby ending up on top of Subban. Crosby then started hitting Subban in the head repeatedly, eventually drawing a roughing penalty while Subban — who quipped that Crosby had complained about Subban’s bad breath during a Game 3 exchange — went off for holding.

Malkin ripped a wrist shot over Rinne’s glove on the ensuing four-on-four to make the score 3-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first. Rinne gave way to Juuse Saros at the start of the second period after stopping just six of nine shots, continuing his wildly uneven play. Rinne had stopped 50 of the 52 shots he faced back home in Games 3 and 4. He has stopped just 34 of the 45 shots he has faced in Pittsburgh.

Saros hardly fared any better. Sheary took a pretty feed from Crosby and sent it by Saros 1:19 into the second to push Pittsburgh’s lead to four. Kessel ended a six-game goal drought 8:02 into the second. That goal had been predicted by Malkin, and it came just seconds after Crosby threw a water bottle onto the ice as the play went past Pittsburgh’s bench, a move he told referees had been unintentional.

When Hainsey, who waited 907 regular-season games before reaching the playoffs for the first time this season, tapped in a pass from Malkin to make it 6-0, the stage was set for the Penguins to return to familiar territory.

The franchise has won all four of its Cups on the road. A shot at a fifth awaits Sunday, although it will hardly be easy.

The Predators are 9-1 at home in the playoffs, a place they will need to be a haven once again if they want to extend their improbable Cup run back to Pittsburgh.

About admin

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply