Pittsburgh holds off Predators in Game 1

Ruben Ruiz
May 30, 2017

The Predators didn't allow the Penguins to get a shot on goal through the second period.

The Penguins failed to record a shot on goal in the second period.

Monday: Pittsburgh at Nashville, 8 p.m.

The star centers and no-name defense of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They find a way.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead. Maybe it's a bit of both. It's their ability to survive when they don't.

Pittsburgh owns a massive edge in Stanley Cup Final experience, 156 games to just five for the Predators, all by Fisher, while playing for Ottawa.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired a shot by Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a flat-out weird 5-3 victory.

"We just knew at that point that we had to start playing", Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. Games 2-6 of the conference finals were the five highest-rated ever in Nashville on NBC outlets, topping out at 16.5 percent of homes for the clincher. And yet it didn't matter. For Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby will always be the most risky man on the ice - but also keep an eye out for center Evgeni Malkin, who leads the Penguins with 24 points this postseason. "We felt like we were chasing the puck the whole game, and they were controlling the puck and it's hard to get scoring chances".

The Penguins will have the luxury of doing it with the lead.

Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth goal of the 2017 playoffs on the power play to officially open the scoring.

"I think we were a little deflated", Sheary said.

"What I love about about our group is we got a favorable result tonight", said Sullivan.

Things brightened for the Predators as Frederick Gaudreau got the tying goal and it seemed the game was headed to overtime.

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Pekka Rinne made seven saves on just 12 shots.

"It was a different game", Rinne said. "I think that's kind of been our biggest strength".

Pittsburgh looked a step behind at the outset.

The Penguins are seeking to become the first repeat champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

Still, all Nashville has to show for it is its first deficit of the playoffs.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette's system counts on his defensemen to jump up in the play and contribute.

P.K. Subban appeared to score with a wrister from atop the right circle, but Penguins video coach Andy Saucier saw something and Sullivan challenged. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The Penguins challenged the goal, alleging that Nashville's Filip Forsberg was offside.

"We could have been", said Sheary.

The decision gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

"He hadn't faced a shot in a while, so you're just trying to get a shot on net", Guentzel told reporters of the Predators goalie. They haven't at any point during their remarkable run. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history - and the first such period by any team in a Final game since the National Hockey League began tracking shots on goal in 1958.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says winger Patric Hornqvist will be back after missing the past six games with an undisclosed injury.

But here they are after their 5-3 win on Monday night sitting just three wins away from winning the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. They rallied with three goals to tie it, but lost the game 5-3, as Nick Bonino added an empty netter.

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