Nashville Predators (55-34-9-4) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (64-28-8-5)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, June 8, 2017
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Lines: Nashville +140 / Pittsburgh -155
After two nightmarish outings in Nashville, the Penguins have found themselves tied at 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Final against the Predators ahead of Game 5, which will be played in Pittsburgh on Thursday…
The Nashville Predators (55-34-13) made it nine home wins out of possible 10 during the 2017 playoffs, beating the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday to even the Stanley Cup Final series at 2-2. Playing just two days after the 5-1 win over the Pens in Game 3 on Saturday, the hosts were in top form once again, with Frederick Gaudreau netting his second consecutive game-winner. The 24-year-old Quebec native, who was recalled by the Predators just six games ago only due to the injury to Ryan Johansen, has now scored all of his three career NHL goals during the Stanley Cup Final, becoming only the second player after John Harms (Chicago Blackhawks, 1944) to do so.
Calle Jarnkrok (2 goals, 10 points in 39 playoff fixtures) opened the scoring with 5:09 minutes left in the first period on a rebound just over a minute before the Penguins tied the game 1-1. Viktor Arvidsson (4 goals, 15 points in 34 post-season outings) made it 3-1 on a breakaway in the middle frame, while Filip Forsberg (15 goals, 26 points in 40 playoff matchups) grabbed an empty-netter 3:23 minutes from time. After a couple of shaky performances in Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh, goalie Pekka Rinne was once again back to his best, making a total of 23 saves, including a multi-save spectacular in the second period, which kept the Preds with a 2-1 lead. He has now gone 14-6 for the ongoing post-season with a 1.88 GAA, a .932 save percentage and two shutouts, adding to his 36-32 career playoff tally (2.34 GAA and a .918 save percentage). The Predators are now tied with the Penguins in most goals netted per game during the current post-season (3.00), allowing the lowest quantity on the defensive end (2.00). They are 8th in power play with an 18.6% success rate (11-for-59) and 3rd best in penalty kill with 89.7% proficiency (52-for-58).
The failure to stamp their authority on the play for the majority of the 2017 playoffs has finally caught up with the Pittsburgh Penguins (64-28-13), who, after taking a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators, have now lost it due to poor showings in Tennessee. After dropping Game 3 with the final score of 5-1 on Saturday, the Pens couldn’t muster anything worthy of mention in the following outing either, losing 4-1 in Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday. The Penguins have been outscored 13-11 so far in the final by the Predators, who have outshot the defending Stanley Cup champions 123-91. Pittsburgh’s 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage during the current post-season (46.55%) and especially versus Nashville (44.44%) is also something of a concern for the Pens. More so given the fact that no team, that has dropped below the 50.00% threshold during the playoffs, has won the Stanley Cup since the Corsi statistic was introduced.
Sidney Crosby (57 goals, 161 points in 146 post-season contests), who spent Game 3 without a shot on goal, managed four this time around, turning one of them into a goal during a breakaway. Brian Dumoulin (3 goals, 13 points in 52 playoff contributions) provided the assist. Goalie Matt Murray, who is 20-9 in his post-season career with a 2.08 GAA and a .924 save percentage, made 22 saves to take his 2017 playoff total to 5-3 with a 2.08 GAA, a .925 save percentage and one shutout. The Penguins, meanwhile, are tied with the Preds in most goals netted per fixture during the ongoing post-season (3.00), 6th in least goals allowed on average (2.48), 5th in power play with a 20.8% turnaround (15-for-72) and 9th in penalty kill with 82.1% expertise (55-for-67).
The Predators will have to win a game in Pittsburgh if they want to lift the Stanley Cup. Yes, they have not come out victorious away at the Penguins since February 2015 and have lost their last four visits to PPG Paints Arena with a combined score of 18-8. The Preds have, however, been the better team during the ongoing final, controlling the majority of the proceedings, with bit-part players stepping up big time. Some decent depth in their squad, huge doses of determination and Pekka Rinne’s resurrection are the essentials Nashville will need to utilize to the max in Game 5. They can win this one, no question about it!
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Last Updated: June 7, 2017
Valdis got his first ever article published when he was 13, and has rarely stopped. He has worked for FHM, MTV Baltics and has done loads of freelance (from columns for Cosmopolitan magazine to helping with organization of Macy Gray’s shows in the Northern Europe). Speaks five different languages, loves pizza, American Horror Story and pipe organ music, and knows European soccer better than dates of his family members’ birthdays. Is an avid fan of ice-hockey too. He is a Latvian after all...