Predators goalie Rinne struggling as Pens take 2-0 lead

An ice worker removes a fish during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators on Monday

Game 3 between the Predators and the Penguins is scheduled for 7PM CT.

Nashville, which trails the series 1-0 despite dominating Game 1, is keeping things status quo. The Penguins 2013 3rd round draft pick scored on his first National Hockey League shift against the New York Rangers.

The Predators have controlled the action for much of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, but the explosive Penguins have continued their opportunistic playoff run, making their chances count for a 2-0 series lead.

While Pittsburgh, who have five road wins in nine playoff games, are two wins shy of repeating as Stanley Cup champions, they have been largely outplayed in the Final but have managed to take advantage of some brief defensive lapses by the Predators. The Penguins turned a 1-1 game into a rout by scoring three goals in the first 3:28 of the third period, forcing Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to pull star goaltender Pekka Rinne for rookie Juuse Saros. "It's the Finals. But I still feel confident out there", he said.

"We talked a lot about elevating our play", center Matt Cullen said of Pittsburgh's second intermission team talk. "I mean, out of 120 minutes, maybe we'd like to take back six of them. 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 2-nothing. We're coming back in our barn, and we don't lose here. At the end of the day, it starts Saturday and you want to take one game at a time.

There went Pekka Rinne, headed down the visiting tunnel and into the dark, leaving his stick on the carpet and a two-game series deficit on the ice. At the age of 23, Murray has not shied away from the fact that he still gets butterflies before the start of a game. Sensing their opponent was on the ropes and bleeding, the Penguins scored twice more in 15 seconds to chase Rinne from the net.

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"It's insane", Guentzel said of his two big games this series after an eight-game goal drought.

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. Against the quick-strike Penguins, it's just.778. Some of them have not been his fault, the Preds have given up an own goal in each game. "Without him, we wouldn't be here today". We thought he was having a good game tonight. "And certain parts of the game where we got to help him out". He has to ride his best players at every position.

"He's the reason why we're here", Fisher said. Rinne was helpless with the move and Guentzel was alert to bang home the rebound. He has a 7-1 record, with a 1.54 goals-against average and a.947 save percentage at Bridgestone Arena. Game 3 is Saturday night in Nashville and the Predators are counting on energy from a wild fan base that will be seeing the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final game at home. "It's a fun atmosphere to play".

A style that now has the Penguins two victories away from history. The Penguins beat Rinne four times on just 11 shots in Game 1 and scored three goals on 25 shots Wednesday for a 2-0 series lead. That includes the last three such situations with the Kings winning in 2012 and 2014 and the Penguins a year ago. 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 ensured the upstart Preds of going home with nothing to show for their trip here.

That's not really a stat, but before regaining his touch against Nashville, Guentzel only had two assists in seven games against the Senators that had head coach Mike Sullivan pondering scratching the young forward. Then again, it had been a unusual game.

They point to these things and they wonder if Rinne can actually turn things around as the series shifts back to Nashville for Game 3 in Nashville.

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