Penguins thrash Predators, take control of Stanley Cup Final

The Penguins host the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals on Thursday. This move was done not as an indictment on Rinne, but to try to jumpstart the Predators.

Crosby had, um, explanations for both.

Pittsburgh Penguins fans Arianna Burns, left, Kaeli Stolar right, and Alex Hersh, rear, cheer for the team outside PPG Paints Arena before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the Penguins and the Nashville Predators, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Only 91 seconds had elapsed in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final and already Sidney Crosby had accomplished so much. We play 20-something games in the playoffs, I don't think we've had one bad game before (Thursday) night so far,'s going to happen. "It seemed hard for us to get anything going".

Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9), of Sweden, is congratulated by Frederick Gaudreau (32) after Forsberg scored an empty net goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday, June 5, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn.

Predators Coach Peter Laviolette has a policy of not discussing lineup changes and wouldn't say if Wilson will return after missing four games because of a lower-body injury.

Paging Mr. Maatta, Mr. Olli Maatta: Losses aren't on any one player, and Maatta's play isn't the main reason that the Penguins have lost two in a row, but when you are getting absolutely undressed in front of your net once per game, it doesn't help.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin got on the scoreboard in the opening period for the Penguins.

"Obviously not the start you want to have", Rinne said. It was Crosby who sent the message - with his vision, his creativity and, oddly, his fists.

More meaningful to his night was the victory, which pushed the Penguins one step closer to becoming the first repeat Stanley Cup victor in 19 years. When limited to one goal during the 2016 postseason, they won the following game.

And apparently not taking any more stuff from Subban either.

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Crosby put on a dominant performance from his first shift, aside from a scuffle with Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and an incident where he threw a water bottle onto the ice.

Now they head to Pittsburgh needing to find a way to win in the home ice of the defending champions after dropping Games 1 and 2.

Crosby's line will also have to outwork Subban and Ekholm, who have shut down a string of elite centers during the playoffs. For his part, the 23-year-old Murray admitted he wouldn't spill the beans even if he was in on the secret, telling the team's website Wednesday that "Even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you". I was in some sort of lock there. This was the Crosby who asserts his will on games, who's unrelenting and unstoppable by any natural force. The two eventually worked their way back up and were dealt matching minor penalties for holding.

"I don't think a player ever 'arrives, '" Sullivan said. He scored on Pittsburgh's first shot against backup Juuse Saros, who replaced Pekka Rinne at the intermission. Sheary took a pretty feed from Crosby and sent it by Saros 1:19 into the second to push Pittsburgh's lead to four. Malkin and Kessel set up Ron Hainsey for a goal.

Going into Game 5 on Thursday night, Crosby and Malkin are still in the wide-open Conn Smythe Trophy race - along with some less-familiar faces.

They now have a chance to rewrite history with a win in Game 6 in Nashville Sunday. In fact, according to Luszczyszyn, only 27 of 32 teams that have been outshot by an average of four or more shots has gone on to win the Stanley Cup.

"That was a huge game", Rinne said.

He stopped short of predicting victory as Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban did prior to Game 3, but the Penguins, as they usually do, responded to Malkin's words.

"Well, I'm not an official", Subban said.

It certainly hasn't mattered during the Cup final. The entire back-and-forth has added an unusual layer of intrigue to a compelling series, to the delight of the mouthwash brand. Matt Murray made 24 saves.

The Penguins promptly won the first two games of the Cup Final, and it looked like they were well on their way to lifting the Cup again. The teams combined for 100 penalty minutes (58 for Nashville, 42 for Pittsburgh). He is one goal away from tying and two away from surpasssing Dino Ciccarelli's rookie playoff goal-scoring record of 14.

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