Flashback to the late spring of 2017. It was hot and toasty outside. The Penguins were back in the Stanley Cup Final. A year prior, they kicked off the series with two home game wins to take a 2-0 series lead against the Sharks. Everyone was hoping they would do the same in 2017.
I was in the building for this game. No big deal to me!
For me personally, this was the first time that it really hit home that the Penguins could very well go on to defend their title and go back-to-back.
Talk about a raucous night.
The building was buzzing and PK Subban and the Predators (and many people across America and the internet) rejoiced when they thought they had a 1-0 lead in the game. But not so fast! An offsides challenge reverses the call!
A couple bad Predators penalties put the Penguins on a 2-man advantage and Evgeni Malkin rockets one into the net. A little bit later, a Chris Kunitz pass sets up Conor Sheary and it's 2-0. A harmless cross-ice pass goes in the net off of Mattias Ekholm’s shin and we’ve got a 3-0 game. What a time to be alive.
The bad part would come soon as the Penguins would take approximately 35 minutes to register their next shot on goal.
Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau would level the score for the Predators over the next period and change. Not great!
However, the Penguins first shot in 30+ minutes....just so happened to be Jake Guentzel streaking down the slot and beating Pekka Rinne clean, which wasn’t a particularly difficult thing to do in this series!
An empty net goal from the Penguins solidified the 5-3 win and it was onto Game 2.
We all know what would eventually happen in this series. Back-to-back.