Penguins regroup, Predators look for road magic in Game 5

Before Thursday night's game, the crowd showed their support for their Pittsburgh Penguins before they battled the Nashville Predators in a pivotal Stanley Cup Final game in some unique ways.

The goals that came so easily to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final - the ones that arrived in bunches and seemed to signal an emphatic end to Pekka Rinne's spectacular playoff run - have disappeared.

All the good mojo Rinne generated while helping Nashville rally to tie the series at 2 vanished in a span of 20 minutes. The Penguins take a 3-2 series lead as Game 6 is Sunday night in Bridgestone Arena.

"That is, hands down, the best game that we've played in this series to this point", Sullivan said.

And then Jake Guentzel snapped that by scoring on the first shot against Pekka Rinne since the first period and that turned out to be the victor. Maybe the one about a minute later when Rinne denied Chris Kunitz on a breakaway? One bad bounce and you're trading the Prince of Wales Trophy for the next tee time at the nearest country club. But through four games, the difference in play between the two team's defenses has been even wider than anyone could have imagined.

The Predators certainly looked ready in games three and four, outscoring the Penguins 9-2. Everyone sees it on the ice and outside the rink how much it's grown. They take great pains to bring the new faces along. It was the fifth 6-goal beating in Cup Final history, meaning the game tied for the seventh-biggest blowout on record in this round.

Pittsburgh has survived anyway thanks in part to a resilience that has been their hallmark under Sullivan.

No matter how the ice has tilted one way or another, this Final has earned some extra attention for the Nashville hockey effect with catfish and country music artists, from surprise anthem singers to Carrie Underwood, the wife of Predators captain Mike Fisher.

Alonso: 'If we win by September, I will stay!'
And while McLaren still wanted to win championships with Honda, there were serious concerns as to whether that was achievable. Alonso was then questioned about what it would take for him to stay at McLaren beyond the end of the season.

Kessel hasn't scored since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final (six games), meanwhile, and has been held to just a single assist so far this series. I think we've got to play with urgency.

Fleury lost the starting job to Murray for most of the regular season. Jake Guentzel leads Pittsburgh with 13 goals, Evgeni Malkin has 18 assists and Phil Kessel has 67 shots on goal. The predators team now has nearly as many faces from their AHL affiliate this time a year ago as they do returning players. He also got called for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third period as tensions started to boil over for the Predators. The only game that was remotely close was the freakish first game where Pittsburgh only had eleven shots but managed five goals.

Picking a Winner - Predators or Penguins?

"I don't know if anybody shakes off a game like that that quickly", Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "But we really liked the way we played in Game 1". Instead, we made a decision to look at two specific players involved in the seven-game series - two players that were traded for each other almost three years ago. "Could have had results in both those games".

The instant one of the Pittsburgh Penguins passes the puck to a teammate, one of the Nashville Predators closes in, taking away any time or space to operate.

"He's waited like a long time - he hasn't scored in a long time", Malkin said, noting the need for the Penguins leaders to rise up. This move was done not as an indictment on Rinne, but to try to jumpstart the Predators.

One that can't get back to the creature comforts of Smashville fast enough.

"We were on our toes tonight", Schultz said. Though Sullivan experimented liberally with his line combinations - something he frequently does when trying to break the Penguins out of a funk - there appear to be no plans to make a change in net.

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