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Game 2 Recap: FINNISH HIM. Pens roast Rinne again, take 2-0 series lead

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The Penguins and Predators hang close for 2 physical, intense periods before a huge Pittsburgh flurry to start the 3rd period chases Nashville star goalie Pekka Rinne yet again.

Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

The Penguins alter their forward lines for Game 2 from Game 1, but make no changes to who plays or sits.

1st period

Pittsburgh starts a lot better and gets a power play early in the game. Cool. They don't do much with it but apply some pressure after it ends and get some shots.

Then Matt Cullen is boarded, but hey, the Predators already got a penalty called on them so....No call here.

Nashville gets a full two minute 5v3 - the penalty for Chris Kunitz cross-checking P.K. Subban in the neck was bad and should be punished but Evgeni Malkin gets one for a guy just falling. Pretty similar to last game with Nashville taking 2 penalties on one play so, meh, that happens. The Pens escape without giving up a goal because the Preds take a dumb penalty on their two-man advantage.

But Nashville strikes first, Pontius Aberg with a high-skill play on Olli Maatta who whiffs on the puck and then whoops that gets ugly. 1-0 Preds.

The Pens tie the game up, Conor Sheary throws a puck at the net, Pekka Rinne makes a stop but leaves a rebound (and juuuust enough space) for Jake Guentzel to score his league-leading 11th goal of the playoffs to tie things at 1.

Nashville unleashes 7 shots in the last 30 seconds but Matt Murray has answers for them all so it stays 1-1 after 20 minutes.

2nd period

Nick Bonino went down hard after blocking a slapshot with the inside of his skate in the 1st period and left putting no weight on his leg, but he's able to return for the start of the 2nd period.

A bunch of crazy things going on, but no goals. Mattias Ekholm cross-checking everyone in arm's reach so Matt Cullen delivers a monster hit (his first...ever?)

Shots end up 32-19 Nashville after 2 periods, but the score remains knotted at 1.

3rd period

Just 10 seconds in the Pens strike again, and it's Jake Guentzel again. Nice play (!??!?!) by Ron Hainsey in the neutral zone, Bryan Rust shoots for a rebound and Rinne is happy to oblige, kicking out the puck. Guentzel has a wide-open net to smack the puck into and it's 2-1 Pens.

Quickly, it's 3-1. Phil Kessel centers and Scott Wilson gets a piece of it, followed by deflecting off the Predator player and in the net.

And there's the hook for Rinne. 4-1 after Malkin rips a shot over the Finnish goalie....Right over the glove yet again.

The Pens get a power play and Patric Hornqvist appears to score but Cullen was clearly off-side upon entry, so it's challenged and the 5-1 lead is wiped down to 4-1 again.

Malkin and Subban get in a fight / hugfest.

And that will do it.

Some Thoughts

  • Guentzel again a shining star. After a period of quiet time for him in the long grind of the playoff he's looking as great as ever. 2 goals tonight were huge- an important answer in the 1st period to tie the game than the eventual GWG early in the 3rd to help open the floodgates. Tough to say too many good things about him now.
  • Rinne's in full regression now, 2 weak games in the Final and his career numbers (.880% in 8 career regular season games) are putrid. He might be lucky there's 2 days between games to try and flush this and move on, but unfortunately for him the Penguins shooters will be right there to see him again on Saturday night.
  • Great play made by Kessel to help make it 3-1 and really push the game out of reach in the 3rd. For a guy said in the papers to be "not doing enough" that certainly was huge.
  • And, ho hum, Matt Murray with 37 saves on 38 shots. All those stops and the end of the 1st period to keep it 1-1 looks really big when you look back on this game. That's the brilliance of Murray- he does an excellent job to keep pucks out of the net when the team needs it and holds them in (scoring chances were 19-5 NSH after 40 minutes) until the inevitable offensive breakout comes. And boy did it.
  • Best of all? No catfish.

Things are rosy for the Pens now, up 2 games 0 in the series as it heads to Nashville. They've got a real chance to put a strangehold on things with a win in one of the next two games on the road.