PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins exploded for three goals in the opening 3:28 of the third period to down the Nashville Predators 4-1 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.
Jake Guentzel broke a 1-1 tie by scoring his second goal of the game 10 seconds into the third to give the Penguins their first lead. His goal was the fastest to start a period in Penguins’ playoff history. Scott Wilson (3:13) and Evgeni Malkin (3:28) followed with goals to chase starting goalie Pekka Rinne. He was replaced by Juuse Saros.
Jake Guentzel buries the juicy rebound for his second goal of the game…2-1 Pens pic.twitter.com/xGYIq2QLtG— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 1, 2017
Malkin goes top shelf and chases Rinne from the game pic.twitter.com/Dtw37avC9c— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 1, 2017
“One of strengths of our team this season is that we’ve been able to adapt and find ways to score,” Penguins center Matt Cullen said.
Here’s what is important from Game 2:
Right goalie move: Since Penguins coach Mike Sullivan switched goalies in the conference final, new starter Matt Murray is 5-1 with a 1.54 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. He made 37 saves in Game 2.
“He has a calming presence back there for us,” Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said.
Moving to Music City: The series now shifts to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday. The Predators are 7-1 at home in this postseason.
“Maybe we just need some consistency,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette. “Will be happy to get home."
Rinne not sharp: Rinne has been the Predators’ top performer in the postseason, but he has not looked sharp in the Predators’ first two games of the Cup Final. He has given up eight goals in less than six full periods.
Guentzel for MVP? With an NHL-leading 12 goals in the playoffs, rookie Guentzel is making his case. He has five game-winners, and has been the offensive hero in each of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Guentzel’s five game-winners are a new NHL rookie record, passing Chris Drury (Colorado, 1999) and Claude Lemieux (Montreal, 1986). Guentzel also ties Mario Lemieux's team record for game-winners, set in 1992.
Malkin leads the NHL in postseason points with 26.
Could have been worse: Patric Hornqvist appeared to score the Penguins’ fourth goal of the third period, but it was nullified by an offside call on a coach’s challenge by Nashville’s Pater Laviolette. Cullen was the player who was in the zone ahead of the play as the puck was brought in by Chris Kunitz.
Two good defensive periods: The Predators held Malkin and Sidney Crosby without a shot on goal in the first two periods of Game 2. The Predators went heavy after Crosby, particularly P.K. Subban. Malkin’s goal came on his first shot of the game.