12 June, 2017
Through two games of the Stanley Cup final the Pittsburgh Penguins have been hanging on, leaning back on the ropes, as George Plimpton once wrote of the rope-a-dope, like a man leaning out his window trying to see something on his roof. That would put them one ahead of the New York Rangers, despite the fact that the Rangers had a 41-year head start on them. After giving up four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he allowed four more on 25 shots in Game 2. At the very least, he needs to go to a place where Jake Guentzel, who scored twice, doesn't exist. The onslaught carried the Penguins to a 4-1 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final.
The Nashville defence vs. the Pittsburgh centres is really the storyline of this Stanley Cup Final and in Game 1, Nashville's defence won the battle and lost the game. And Murray has been a major difference maker so far in the final.
The early part of the second period was held up by a freakish delay when a Predators fan hurled a dead catfish onto the ice, part of a long-standing tradition that has endured despite attempts by authorities to prevent it. They will also need strong role player performances.
"There's a stretch they're able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic and that swung two games in their favor", he said.
The 22-year-old Guentzel finished with two goals to give him an NHL-high 12 during the playoffs, the second-most by a rookie in postseason history. His 19 points is good for fourth-best ever, two points behind Ciccarelli in 1981 and Ville Leino of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. All three goals in the third period, we could have done something better. Nashville also went with the same lineup as in Game 1. That was more than he allowed in the entire first-round series against the Blackhawks. Conor Sheary then tapped into an empty net after a sublime pass from Chris Kunitz to make it 2-0 as the Predators struggled to get a foothold in the game. With time running out, Bonino slid the puck into an empty net to complete the scoring.
In many ways, Game 2 was like Game 1.
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"It's frustrating in the sense that we haven't gotten on the board with a win yet", Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters on Thursday. But it's pretty clear that his skill level and his ability to finish make him a good linemate for Crosby.
"I mean, (analytics are) a part of it now", said Crosby. "... I think the game is kind of what everybody expected from an intensity standpoint".
This is the coach who during his two runs to the Cup finals, used two goalies in the playoffs and based his decision night after night on his gut. That's hasn't been a problem for Murray, who has given Pittsburgh's offense a chance to capitalize on its opportunities.
The Pittsburgh Penguins kept Pekka Rinne plenty busy this time. Give the Predators credit. He took a ton of heat for putting Murray back in the net during the Eastern Conference final after Fleury had played so well, but it was clearly the right decision, as hard as it must have been to make. He probably doesn't throw up before games the way Glenn Hall did, but the butterflies are there.
"I'm sure they'll hear the noise and the energy in the building", Subban said of the Penguins. For one, they actually put pucks on the net.
Without question, Rinne was the Predators' leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) at the start of the series, which moves to Bridgestone Arena for Game 3 on Saturday (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network).