Score five goals in row, Pekka Rinne makes 27 saves
NASHVILLE — The Nashville Predators got their first Stanley Cup Final win Saturday, 5-1 in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville lost the first two games of its first Cup Final in Pittsburgh. Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is here Monday.
“I think it’s for sure saying that we’re here to play,” Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “We’re not out of this by any means. Obviously coming back after two losses, guys were just anxious and excited to get out there and we really showed it in a great way.”
“Well I think these first couple games and the beginning of the game, it’s been a battle,” Rinne said. “I think at those moments just mentally, you try to erase your mind and focus on the next save and remind yourself that you’re still in the Finals and life’s pretty good.”
Josi scored on a power play to tie the game 1-1 at 5:51 of the second period. His slap shot from the right faceoff circle beat Matt Murray for his sixth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, most among NHL defensemen.
Josi is the first defenseman with at least three points in a Stanley Cup Final game since Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
“He’s as consistent a player as there is in the National Hockey League,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of Josi. “Day in and day out at practice, every game, he gives the same quality of performance. He’s an excellent 200-foot defenseman. He plays as well in the defensive zone as he does in the offensive zone. We count on him for a lot of situations.”
Frederick Gaudreau gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 6:33 on a wrist shot from the slot. He took a pass from Austin Watson for his second goal.
Craig Smith pushed it to 4-1 at 4:54 of the third period on a breakaway. He intercepted the puck at center ice and beat Murray on the glove side for his first goal.
Ekholm made it 5-1 on the power play at 13:10 on a slap shot.
Jake Guentzel gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 2:46 of the first period on a rebound. Ian Cole shot from the point, and Guentzel beat Rinne for his 13th goal of the playoffs, one short of the postseason record for a rookie.
“We got a good start,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We knew they were going to come out hard, and they did. To come out of the first with the lead was good, but they score a power-play goal. That happens, but we give up one pretty soon after that one and then one late in the period that you can’t give up with 25 seconds left or whatever it is. You can’t do that at any point, especially in big games like this.”
The Predators have had 19 players score in the playoffs.
“I think it’s been our strength all playoffs long is that there’s different guys stepping up in different moments,” Josi said. “Obviously we’ve had some injuries with [forwards Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen]. Guys stepped in and have done a great job, and it’s definitely been one of our strengths in the playoffs.”
Goal of the game
Gaudreau’s goal came 42 seconds after Josi’s and was the result of a chip pass by Watson. Gaudreau shot around Cole and beat Murray.
Saves of the game
Rinne made a pad save on Phil Kessel‘s shot and followed it up with a save on a rebound chance by Kunitz in the second period to preserve a 2-1 lead.
Unsung performance of the game
“When Harry comes in the lineup, he brings speed, he brings energy, he brings physicality,” Laviolette said. “That was a perfect example of it. He put the puck to an area, tried to get a step on the guy, and forced him to take a penalty.”
Highlight of the game
Smith’s breakaway goal came after he got a turnover that was caused when Kunitz stick-handled the puck off Kessel’s skate at center ice.
They said it
“Missed the net and got shots blocked. I had some opportunities to shoot it and didn’t get it there. There were a few chances around the net, just got to find a way to get it through.” - Penguins center Sidney Crosby
“Austin did a really good chip to get the puck in the air. The puck ended up flat on my stick so I just kind of saw a hole and tried to put it there. I think I tried to fake it a bit before, and I was happy it went in.” - Predators forward Frederick Gaudreau
Need to know
Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each did not have a shot on goal for the first time together in a playoff game. … Guentzel trails Dino Ciccarelli, who scored 14 playoff goals as a rookie with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981. Guentzel’s 20 points are one short of the rookie playoff record held by Ciccarelli and Ville Leino (Philadelphia Flyers, 2010). … Guentzel is the first player to score in each of the first three games of a Cup Final since 1997 (Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings against Flyers). His four goals in the Cup Final are one short of that rookie record (Roy Conacher, Boston Bruins, 1939 against Toronto Maple Leafs; Brad Marchand, Bruins, 2011 against Vancouver Canucks). … Nashville is 8-1 at home this postseason. … The Penguins went 0-for-3 on the power play and had one shot on goal. They are 1-for-13 in the series. … Penguins forward Nick Bonino was scratched with a lower-body injury sustained in Game 2.
Game 4 of Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports, SN)