Pro hockey: Penguins take 2-0 Stanley Cup lead

In Game 2, despite being physically battered and bruised, and badly outshot again, the Penguins did what has become their calling card: winning in all sorts of situations. Nashville has gradually developed into the very model of a young franchise, playing consistently solid hockey while also growing a fan base despite a non-traditional hockey market, and Rinne has been a steady presence for most of that process. Those numbers ballooned after the first two games against the Penguins.

The Penguins erupted for three goals in the first three minutes 30 seconds of the third period, ending Rinne's night en route to a 4-1 win in Game 2 and 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup final. Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates his goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the third period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

He delivered an All-Star guarantee for Saturday night. "There's no question - we're going to win the next game and then we'll move forward". Bad or even average possession teams so rarely win the Cup now: Boston was 14th in 2011 with one of the great goaltending performances in history; Pittsburgh, in 2009, was 19th with Crosby and Malkin.

Just like that, for the first time in the playoffs, Rinne was pulled by Preds head coach Peter Laviolette, putting in youngster Juuse Saros for the remaining 16 minutes, 32 seconds.

The Penguins were back-to-back Stanley Cup champions on a night that included a milestone.

"When we're playing our best, no one can beat us in this league", Subban said after the Predators practiced Friday.

Up 2-0 in the series, the Pens find themselves in the exact same position as they were during last year's Final and wound up losing Game 3 in San Jose to let the Sharks back in the series. "Ultimately, it's about 1-on-1 battles and bringing your best game and as a group, collectively, we found a way to bring it". We're down, two-nothing. We're coming back in our barn, and we don't lose here.

Will Rinne start Game 3?

Despite Sullivan's comments, Hagelin said that he feels healthy enough to contribute at his standard level.

He has allowed eight goals on 34 shots in two games; the Predators had 38 shots on goal in Game 2 alone.

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It doesn't matter how well the offense plays, how many shots they put on the Penguins' goal, or how the six defenders play; the success of this team hinges exclusively on the play of the goalie.

He entered the series with a.941 save percentage during the playoffs, which has dropped to.929. Against the quick-strike Penguins, it's just.778. It sounds reductionist to say that without Matt Murray, the Predators would be up 2-0 in the series heading to back to Nashville, but every stat bears that out.

With each passing game, more and more fans pile into downtown to watch games on the plaza or in the adjacent Walk of Fame Park. "And certain parts of the game where we got to help him out".

"Everything was there that we liked but the result", Ellis said. Rinne got the Preds here. The Predators are 7-1 at home in this postseason.

Country music star Alan Jackson will play a concert prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in Nashville on Saturday.

"They're opportunistic", Laviolette said. "It's a fun atmosphere to play".

But Murray, who has already won a Stanley Cup and is two wins away from winning another, has experience. Just over three minutes later, the Penguins scored two goals 15 seconds apart to cap a Game 2 victory.

- After slumping for most of the playoffs, Chris Kunitz has begun to regain form over his last three games.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin may be a man of few words but his on-ice dominance speaks for itself, head coach Mike Sullivan said on Thursday. Rinne has been everything and more the Predators could have asked from a goalie during this postseason up until these finals against the Penguins. "Like I said, I think there's things we can do better".

  • Rita Burton