Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

by Garry Watts June 10, 2017, 7:06
Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

It ended with haymaker after haymaker - both literal and proverbial - from Sidney Crosby and the rest of the resilient Pittsburgh Penguins. That the secret to his greatness is really no secret at all. The Penguins played fast and with a objective.

In theory, yes. But not always in practice. He took over. And he led. The other one is a bit more odd and silly, however.

This may be the Predators' first time in the Stanley Cup Final, but they staved off elimination three times previous year in playing a full 14 games through two rounds. Instead, his penalty was just one of 14 given to the Predators with 10 handed out to Pittsburgh for a total of 100 penalty minutes. Pittsburgh's two goals came 5:12 apart early in Game 5, on the power play from Justin Schultz and at even strength from Bryan Rust.

Crosby, who won his second Rocket Richard Trophy with 44 goals during the regular season, looks more and more like the favourite to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy for a second straight spring along with, potentially, a third Stanley Cup and second in as many years.

As in Game 1, the Predators returned to the locker room Thursday at first intermission in a 3-0 hole, but it wasn't the product of Penguins puck luck. He insists it was accidental.

Stanley is more than just a cartoon dog. He just has the ability to make plays around him better.

Local fans of such as Bobby Orr and Larry Robinson might also lean towards Nashville, because the Predators play a more free-flowing, defencemen-involved kind of offence.

In the process Crosby moved into a tie for 19th on the all-time list for playoff points and is within one victory of celebrating a third championship with Pittsburgh, something even his Hall of Fame mentor was unable to do.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that Matt Murray would remain in goal and said that center Nick Bonino was a game-time decision. "He doesn't just show up to the rink and put his equipment on". Sullivan took over as Penguins coach midway through last season and was struck by how Crosby "controls everything within his power to be the very best". "He lives the right way".

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Despite being right there, the official saw no reason to intervene as the players tangled up.

The Penguins wasted little time to add onto the lead in the second period. It seems simply part of the territory in June.

Crosby denies the trash talk.

"I don't understand it". The 2nd period would end, but not before Ron Hainsey scored to make it 6-0. The referees of the game were either busy looking at the game or they just ignored the fact that Crosby played dirty at the match.

On the game's first shift, Crosby wove down the slot, putting a shot off the left post and drawing a holding penalty on Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis.

The altercation happened in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, which the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated with a 6-0 score. He isn't a superstar but he is a star and you can't say that of anyone else on the team. "But that's what a leader does".

Then the Preds beat a pretty good St. Louis Blues team and went on to top a tough and talented Anaheim Ducks squad in the Western Conference final. He missed the first couple of weeks of the season with a concussion, then returned to lead the National Hockey League in goals.

There, want a rooting interest not involved in anti-something-or-other, pick a justification above and get ready for game six Sunday. Kessel scored his first in six games, making it 5-0 later in the period, while Hainsey capped Pittsburgh's second three-goal period of the game.

Former Gazette columnist and current nhl.com scribe Dave Stubbs was on the phone with TSN 690's Mitch Melnick this week talking about the Predators and he had a great line, saying how the Stanley Cup is nothing but a rumour for a whole generation of Montrealers.


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