Penguins demolish Predators in Game 5 blowout win - HockeyTickets.ca penguins game 5 tickets

Penguins demolish Predators in Game 5 blowout win News 11 June

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from capturing a second straight Stanley Cup thanks to an epic blowout win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night, 6-0 over the Nashville Predators.

They have a 3-2 series lead ahead of Sunday’s Game 6, thanks in no small part to their trio of star players.

Sidney Crosby was dominant from the opening faceoff, tallying three assists and playing a forceful game. Phil Kessel, dormant for most of this series, had a goal and two assists. Evgeni Malkin, shut down without a point in two losses in Nashville, had a goal and an assist.

Matt Murray, shaky in Game 4, posted a 24-save shutout, the third in the playoffs in his career.

The Predators were absolutely walloped. They had lost their previous two road games in this series, but played well for most of them, as the Penguins won with short spurts of goal-scoring.

But in Game 5, the Predators were nearly done after the first 20 minutes.

Justin Schultz got the first goal for Pittsburgh at 1:31 of the first period after the Penguins earned a power play thanks to a strong move by Crosby.

That soft five-hole goal was an indication that, yet again, it would not be Pekka Rinne’s night in Pittsburgh, where he’s never won as a starter.

It was 2-0 just five minutes and 12 seconds later, as Bryan Rust lifted a shot over Rinne’s shoulder for his seventh of the playoffs.

The first period featured another round in Crosby’s battle with P.K. Subban, as the two had a wrestling match behind the Penguins’ net. They both went off on holding minors, which meant 4-on-4 hockey to end the period. (And meant Crosby, oddly, didn’t get an additional roughing minor for slamming Subban’s head into the ice.)

Which meant open ice for Kessel and Malkin without Subban, who had shut them down, out there. And Malkin scored a backbreaker for the Predators:

That goal chased Rinne, pulled for the second straight game in Pittsburgh after two masterful efforts in Nashville. He gave up three goals on nine shots and was replaced by Juuse Saros.

The game was put out of reach in the third period when Conor Sheary scored at 1:19 of the second period, followed by Kessel’s goal at 8:02:

Ron Hainsey scored the Penguins’ sixth goal at 16:40, on a perfect assist from Malkin.

Things got nasty in the third period, with fights and misconduct penalties on both sides.

So the Predators limp back to Nashville for Game 6, facing elimination. The good news? They’re 9-1 at home in the playoffs.

The bad news? Game 7 is back at a house of horrors for them in Pittsburgh.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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The Penguins got everything they needed in Game 5 blowout win Pete Blackburn @PeteBlackburn Jun 9, 2017 at 4:08p ET 0 Shares

Prior to Game 5, you could’ve made the argument that the Predators outplayed the Penguins in every game of the Stanley Cup Final.

Not anymore.

The Penguins brought a whoopin’ in Thursday’s pivotal Game 5 in Pittsburgh, beating the Preds 6-0 to take a 3-2 series lead. The victory puts them just one win away from becoming the first NHL team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in nearly 20 years. 

Pittsburgh would have taken a W any way they could get it on Thursday, especially after squandering a 2-0 series lead in Nashville. They got worked by the Predators in consecutive games and needed to stop the bleeding to regain control of the series however they could. 

Not only did the Penguins get the win, they did so while getting several bounce-back performances from key pieces of their team that had been struggling. It was just what the doctor ordered for Pittsburgh.

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One of the big questions leading up to Game 5 was what the Penguins would do in net. After two tough outings by Matt Murray in Nashville, calls started getting louder for the Penguins to go back to Marc-Andre Fleury - who carried them through the first few rounds of the playoffs - as their starter in net. 

Sticking with Murray always seemed like the right call (neither of the two PIT losses should be pinned on him), and that’s ultimately what the Pens decided to do. Their faith paid off.

Murray came back strong and quieted any doubters that he may have picked up in Nashville, stopping all 24 shots he faced. It was his second shutout in nine starts this postseason. Now, he’s one win away from becoming the first goaltender to win two Stanley Cups before the end of his rookie season. 

So much for that goalie controversy.

Charles LeClaire Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

But when one goalie controversy dies, another picks back up – at least that was the case on Thursday. 

On the other end of the ice, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who also sparked debate about a goalie swap after two awful games in Pittsburgh, once again struggled in Game 5.

Rinne stopped just six of nine shots before being pulled in favor of 22-year-old Juuse Saros following the first intermission. It continues Rinne’s longstanding string of struggles in Pittsburgh, where he has still yet to win as a starter in his career. In three games at PPG Paints Arena this series, Rinne has stopped just 34 of 45 for a .756 save-percentage. Yikes. 

Still, if the Predators didn’t yank Rinne after the first two games, it seems unlikely they’ll do so now, especially given how well he’s played at home this postseason. Plus, it’s not like Saros was great in relief -- he stopped 12 of 15 in 40 minutes of action.

But people love themselves a goalie controversy, so don’t be surprised if it comes in the next few days leading up to Game 6 on Sunday. Rinne is a goalie known for being streaky and inconsistent throughout his career, so the fact that the doubts might be out there heading into an elimination Game 6 could be a win for the Penguins.

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Another big plus for the Penguins was the sources of their contributions on the scoresheet in Game 5. Obviously, scoring six goals in a game is always excellent, but it’s especially excellent when you get some notable slumps broken in the process. 

Such was the case for Pittsburgh and few of its star players on Thursday.

The first goal of the game came on an early power play tally from Justin Schultz. That might have been a bad omen for Nashville considering how much the Penguins’ man-advantage unit has struggled throughout the series.

In the previous four games, the Penguins went just 1 for 16 on the power play, and somehow the special teams unit looked even worse than that number suggested. To their credit, the Pens were able to take advantage of an early opportunity and grab some momentum on Thursday. 

Maybe it’s not the end of all their power play struggles – they finished the night 1 for 6 – but the lone conversion may give them a little bit more confidence on the PP heading into Game 6.

Charles LeClaire Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh’s biggest roster advantage over Nashville might be their offensive star power, and the Penguins’ three biggest stars – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel – came up huge on Thursday night.

Nashville’s excellent top two pairings on defense had done a good job limiting the damage done by those guys, but they broke through big-time in Game 5. All three contributed a multi-point effort and their most productive performance of the series.

Crosby (three assists) was outstanding, but it was Malkin and Kessel, who had been struggling, that most needed the shine.

Malkin had a goal and an assist to get back on the Conn Smythe train. He had gone cold in Nashville, finishing without a point and a minus-3 in the two losses. 

Kessel entered Thursday without a goal in six games, and nine without one at even strength. He snapped both of those droughts in Game 5 with a goal and two assists.

Nashville’s top defenseman, P.K. Subban, had been matched up with the Malkin-Kessel line for much of the series and was on the ice for one 5-on-5 goal (three total) in the first four games. He was on the ice for two 5-on-5 goals against (three total) on Thursday night.

Getting the Pens’ stars hot heading into the elimination game(s) could be huge for Pittsburgh, especially if the Predators are without defenseman Ryan Ellis, who left Thursday’s game with an injury and is questionable for Game 6. Losing Ellis forced the Preds to do some juggling with their very steady defensive pairings, and it hurt them.

Charles LeClaire Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game 5 may have just been one game but it was certainly a pivotal one in this series. The Game 5 winner of a 2-2 Stanley Cup Final has gone on to win the Cup in 17 of the last 24 instances. The series is still far from over, especially with the Predators going back to a strong home ice advantage in Nashville.

That being said, the Penguins have put themselves in a very good spot.

While the Pens were essentially dominated in their first few games at Bridgestone Arena, they’re also 4-0 all-time on the road with a chance to clinch a Stanley Cup Final – including last year in San Jose with largely the same roster. 

Now they’re coming off a game in which they got pretty much everything they needed to be operating at full confidence. It’s a nerve-wracking time to be a Predators fan.

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