Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have pushed the Nashville Predators to the brink. Can Pittsburgh claim their second consecutive Stanley Cup? Or will Smashville defend their home ice and force a Game 7?
|Penguins vs Predators
ML +120 / -140
Here are tonight’s starting goaltenders, courtesy of LeftWingLock.
Well, that didn’t go as planned.
Nashville’s road woes continued as the Pittsburgh Penguins blew the Preds out of the building by a score of 6-0 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Any and all momentum that had begun to swing the Predators’ way evaporated just 90 seconds into play, as Justin Schultz got the Penguins on the board. Ryan Ellis went to the box early, sending the Penguins on the powerplay. It would take 41 seconds for Pittsburgh to find the back of the net, as Justin Schultz hammered home a one-timer from the blue line.
The shot had eyes, finding its way through the legs of Austin Watson, past three or four sticks in traffic and through the five-hole of Pekka Rinne.
Pittsburgh would strike once again on (what a shock) a perfectly executed rush generated from their own zone. Trevor Daley flipped the puck up off the glass and into the neutral zone and Chris Kunitz was off to the races. Kunitz entered the zone with two other forwards, the trailer being Bryan Rust. Rust received the pass in the slot, cut to Rinne’s right then finessed a backhander over Rinne’s glove. It was a picture-perfect play.
Rust goal pic.twitter.com/JcyNPJd6va
— steph (@myregularface) June 9, 2017
The ice opened up at the end of the first period after a pair of penalties were levied against P.K. Subban and Sidney Crosby. Both players deserved penalties without question, but Crosby made sure that if he was going to the box, he was going to get his money’s worth.
Sidney Crosby gives PK Subban the world’s worst CPR lesson pic.twitter.com/FUieqHKBHy
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 9, 2017
With seconds remaining, Phil Kessel was hit in stride with a perfect stretch pass (again) and entered the zone with Evgeni Malkin bringing up the rear. Kessel stopped, waited for Malkin, and fed him for a one-timer.
Money in the bank.
Even though the score was lopsided, it still was only just one period. We could still have a competitive game on our hands if Nashville could get a quick one to start the second frame, right?
Conor Sheary netted his second of the playoffs at 1:19 in the second, all but dooming the Predators.
A great pass by Crosby leads to the Sheary goal. All Penguins tonight. 4-0 pic.twitter.com/jsq4bX52GD
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) June 9, 2017
But just for good measure, Phil Kessel buried a wrister on a 3-on-2, while Ron Hainsey capped off a tic-tac-toe play on a rush of his own.
After 40 minutes of play, the ice was as open as an All-Star game. The score would hold for the remainder of the game. Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel both had three points on the night. Evgeni Malkin, Scott Wilson and Ron Hainsey each had two.
The you-know-what hit the fan in the third period with some hot tempers boiling over in Nashville’s camp. Nineteen penalties were called in the final period, four of them game misconducts.
Swedish civil war pic.twitter.com/RDxTSPQQvT
— steph (@myregularface) June 9, 2017
Often times when games are a lost cause, teams resort to goonery. That unfortunately seems to be the path taken by the Nashville Predators.
To make things worse, Ryan Ellis left the game with an undisclosed injury and was not at practice yesterday. He is a game-time decision.
It’s games like these that frustrate me to no end in regards to Sidney Crosby. This may actually have been the best playoff game played by this generation’s greatest player. His trio of assists were phenomenal. They were works of art in their own right. The Penguins were able to create rush opportunities at will and had all the space they could have dreamed of in the attacking zone.
But most fans probably won’t remember that. The coalition of hockey fans outside of Pittsburgh will remember Crosby shoving P.K. Subban’s face into the ice making him taste snow and throwing a water bottle onto the ice.
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) June 9, 2017
I want to defend Crosby because of just how insanely good he is. He is the best player in the world and has been for over a decade. But he just can’t help but insert himself into these situations where his actions or antics or whatever you want to call them overshadow his on-ice accomplishments.
It’s fascinating, especially when considering that Crosby could very well be en route to his second straight Conn Smythe. The only skaters to have won two Conn Smythes? Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. The same would hold true if the award is presented to Evgeni Malkin should the Pens win.
When reflecting on the 2016-17 season, will you remember Sid’s three-assist performance in Game 5? His one-handed goal against the Sabres? Or his playground tussle with Subban? Or the crotch-shot he gave Ryan O’Reilly earlier that game in Buffalo?
He’s a complex character, that Sid. Perhaps I’m making too much of it. After all, he is one win away from his third career Stanley Cup. Not even Mario Lemieux did that as a player.
Outside noise aside, the Penguins put on a passing clinic in Game 5 that the Predators ought to be embarrassed by. Blowout losses can provide a kick in the pants that can spur a team onto victory. The Oilers lost 7-0 to the Sharks then won the next two to win the series. Anaheim lost to Edmonton 7-1 in Game 6 then won Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final. Even Pittsburgh rebounded from a 5-2 loss to take Game 7 against the Washington Capitals in Game 7.
So can Nashville rebound? Absolutely. And they will have the most electric crowd in their franchise’s history behind them.
However, all four of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup victories have come on the road. This includes last year’s Game 6 triumph in the SAP Center in San Jose. Smashville can get as rowdy as they want, the fact is that Pittsburgh may not be fazed by it at all.
I’m still going to take the Predators, because I took them to win the Cup Final and I’m not going to back away from my initial prediction. However, I certainly would give a good hard look at the line tonight. Because the Penguins could very well be lifting the Cup on hostile territory again tonight.
They will need a healthy Ryan Ellis, a confident Pekka Rinne and an intense offensive attack. Keep the feet moving and get the crowd into it early. If Pittsburgh gets on the board first, there may be no coming back.
Prediction: Take the Predators to force Game 7. Play the over.
To make a play on the Stanley Cup Final, visit our sports book at https://www.betdsi.eu/gms-hockey.
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