After losing game one, one of the most bizarre professional hockey games in recent memory, the Nashville Predators hope to take a win from the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight on the road. Game one featured goals being overturned, 5 on 3 chaos, an off night by Pekka Rinne, and over a period of the Penguins not getting a shot on net. If the law of averages holds true, tonight should be a much more normal hockey game.
The Pittsburgh Penguins
Well, despite getting Patrick Hornqvist back from injury, the Penguins still struggled mightily to get shots through to Pekka Rinne. For the entire second period and over half of the third, the Penguins could not muster a single shot on goal.
However, Jake Guentzel and his unsustainable 19.8 shooting percentage struck on their first shot afterwards, giving the Penguins the 4-3 lead. Other Penguins riding unsustainable shooting percentages, as good as those players are, include Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Both centers sit at 17.3%. Despite their talent, that number is still high and should regress a little bit.
Carl Hagelin was the scratch with Hornqvist returning to the lineup. Head coach Mike Sullivan has been shuffling his lines all playoffs long, so it would be foolish to assume Hagelin will be out of the lineup again. However, he did get extra work in the morning skate, so if you had to pick the odd man out, he woudn’t be a bad bet.
Hagelin, Kuhnhackl, Rudwedel and Streit have stayed on the ice for extra work.— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) May 31, 2017
The Nashville Predators
Despite losing 5-3, the Predators were far and away the better team Monday night; it just did not show on the scoreboard.
The Predators began the game with great pace and tempo, resulting in P.K. Subban scoring the first Stanley Cup Finals goal in franchise history.
The Penguins challenged the call, needing “indisputable evidence” to claim that Filip Forsberg was offside on the play. After needing over seven minutes to determine if there was “indisputable evidence,” the referees somehow decided that the video was, in fact, indisputably in favor of the Penguins.
Deflated, the Predators then took two penalties on the same play. One went to James Neal for a blatant crosscheck, another to Calle Jarnkrok on a play where Patrick Hornqvist simply fell in front of him. It wasn’t a dive by the former Predator; he just simply lost an edge. Nonetheless, the referees took Jarnkrok to the box for tripping. After Evgeni Malkin scored a power play goal, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette was not thrilled with the referees and let them know it.
Peter Laviolette screams "way to fuckin' go!" at the officials repeatedly after Malkin's goal. pic.twitter.com/Xgfy8GqYrf— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) May 30, 2017
The Predators would concede twice more, including a bizarre own goal off Mattias Ekholm’s leg, before the period ended.
Nevertheless, they showed great resolve over the rest of the game, holding the Penguins without a shot for over thirty minutes, including the entire second period. They tied the game, but just couldn’t hold on as Rinne gave Guentzel a goal that he’d probably like to have back.
The strategy deployed by the Predators worked, so expect similar lines today. However, Colin Wilson was scratched due to injury Monday after practicing all weekend. Prior to Monday, the fourth line in practice had been Gaudreau-Fiddler-Watson. Perhaps if Wilson returns, McLeod ends up the odd man out?
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops in Pittsburgh at 7:00ct. The game will be televised through NBCSN. Otherwise, you can catch the Predators on the radio at 102.5.