Preds encouraged despite Game 1 loss in Stanley Cup Final


Preds encouraged despite Game 1 loss in Stanley Cup Final

Maybe that's the way the Pittsburgh Penguins should look at their 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. The Penguins did not have a shot in the second period, the first time a team has gone without a shot during one period of a Stanley Cup Final game since the National Hockey League started tracking shots in the 1957-58 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Nashville had erased a 3-0 deficit to tie the game 3-3 on Frederick Gaudreau's goal at 13:29 of the third.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired the puck past Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a back-and-forth 5-3 victory on Monday night.

An empty net goal by the Penguins with 62 seconds remaining just was icing on the cake.

Amazingly, the game was tied after Austin Watson won a battle for the puck behind the Pittsburgh net just after a Nashville penalty had expired and he spotted an onrushing Frederick Gaudreau, his first ever goal in the National Hockey League tying the game with 6:31 to play in regulation. Subban celebrated, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin surely grieved and the barometric pressure inside PPG Paints Arena plunged. The celebration was short-lived, as a coach's challenge revealed that Forsberg had been offside earlier on the play.

Five goals on 12 shots.

"We didn't do a great job of (shooting), but we made them count", Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. They'll be better, they vowed, and they'll have to make good on that against the resilient Predators. The celebration was short-lived, however, as a coach's challenge revealed that Forsberg had been offside earlier on the play.

Maybe that's why he couldn't get a piece of the puck on the victor. "If we played a little stiffer, we could create separation from the puck and give our guys an opportunity to win a puck battle".

But Nashville's blue line clamped down in a hurry to follow up the uncharacteristically slow start for Pekka Rinne, surrendering just eight shots on goal in the first period despite Pittsburgh's lead. The 30-year-old has four goals and seven points in 13 games this spring and scored twice in last year's Cup final against San Jose. 'It's hard to say right now, and I think until we get the information, we'll know more then, ' Farrell said. A shot at a second straight Stanley Cup beckons for the Penguins.

Another multiple-player effort led to the Penguins' second goal. I have always believed that in the playoffs, the team with the better goalie and the better power play wins.

It looked like the rout was on when Rinne stopped a shot by Nick Bonino but couldn't control the rebound, which caromed off the leg of Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and into the net at 19:43. They went on to beat Ottawa which finished 12th overall and they are now facing the team that occupied the 16th spot.

A bit of good fortune gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

The first period of their first Stanley Cup Final game was a rough one for the Nashville Predators.

"Obviously we have to be better".

With the Pittsburgh players telling themselves that they needed to get a shot - "We were definitely yelling for everybody to shoot", said Sheary - Matt Cullen fed Guentzel up the ice with a pass.

Anyway, Malkin finally ended almost two full minutes of futzing around on the ice with a slapshot that rang off the bottom of Pekka Rinne's glove, and it was, a little dubiously but inarguably, 1-0.

Hornqvist hasn't played since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final because of an upper body injury.

As if that wasn't enough, the Predators then took two minor penalties on the same play a few moments later. They started sustaining more pressure, while handcuffing the Penguins' attack.

What subsequently hurt the Predators' chances-what had them playing catch up most of the night in a game that they territorially dominated-was an very bad lapse in judgment by James Neal, who took a cross-checking penalty while the Penguins controlled the puck on a delayed penalty call.