The Pittsburgh Penguins used strength, speed, and poise to take game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals in a 6-0 routing of the Nashville Predators.
The Penguins looked like they were going to get on the board early as Jake Guentzel found Sidney Crosby at the top of the circle and allowed him to split the defense, draw a penalty, and get a quality scoring chance just under a minute into the game. On the ensuing power play, Justin Schultz’s one-time blast split not only the legs of Pekka Rinne, but also the defenseman Austin Watson to give the Pens an early 1-0 lead.
With complete bedlam in the building, the Penguins maintained great offensive communication adding a second tally with Bryan Rust beating Rinne this time on the backhand over his glove shoulder only 6:43 into the first.
The Predators changed the momentum as the period continued with the help of a power play near the midpoint of the period and a strong faceoff advantage winning over 60% of draws. The Preds maintained that momentum until just 10.2 seconds remaining when Phil Kessel’s pass to Evgeni Malkin was one-timed again over Rinne’s glove to end the period with a 3-0 Penguins lead.
WE WANT THE CUP. WE WANT THE CUP. WE WANT THE CUP.
— Sophia Loren (@Sophia_Loren89) June 9, 2017
Hoping to incite some desperation from his team, Peter Laviolette put Juuse Saros into net replacing Rinne. Unfortunately for his team, the second period started much like the first, the Penguins created multiple chances and finally Connor Sheary found the back of the net off a Crosby pass. Guentzel grabbed the secondary helper on Sheary’s goal. Nearing the midpoint of the second Phil Kessel extended the lead to five for the Penguins
With just over three minutes to go in the second, Ron Hainsey avoided both James Neal’s and Predators Captain Mike Fisher’s simultaneous check attempts in the defensive zone before completing the rush and scoring on a pass from Malkin to extend the lead to 6-0.
Throughout the 3rd, Murray and the Penguins showed they would not take a period off with a large lead. Murray’s goalmouth save with 13:32 remaining led to an offensive chance and a cross-checking penalty to James Neal. The Penguins also had a 5-on-3 powerplay late in the period as well as a final powerplay to end the game. The Penguins didn’t score on the powerplay in the 3rd period, but they maintained control of the puck and momentum.
With more chirping, pushing, shoving, and face washes following plays, as well as a controversial water bottle “toss” by Crosby, the game became chippy following Kessel’s goal that put the Pens up 5-0. The game finished with 98 penalty minutes, including four majors, four misconducts and match penalty to the Predators Colton Sissions.
Sissons match penalty pic.twitter.com/K09AC96yAv
— steph (@myregularface) June 9, 2017
While the Penguins were outshot 24-23, Matt Murray finished his strong performance in goal with 24 saves.
— Steph A Chambers (@StephChambers76) June 9, 2017
The Penguins will look to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in back-to-back fashion on Sunday evening at 8pm Eastern in Nashville. If the Penguins win, they will be the first team since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. The Pittsburgh Penguins achieved the feat, which has only occurred 16 times dating back to 1920, in the early 90’s winning the 1991 and 1992 seasons.