With the Stanley Cup Finals tied at two games apiece, the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins are now playing a best-of-three to determine who hoists the Stanley Cup. Tonight the Predators enter the confines of PPG Paints Arena, where the Penguins have enjoyed great success these playoffs, including beating the Predators in games 1 and 2 of this series.
Nevertheless, everything has been working against Pittsburgh. The Predators have been the better team for 10 of the 12 periods thus far this series and dominated the Penguins back in Nashville. Will home cooking help the Penguins, or will the Predators continue to dictate the flow of play?
The Pittsburgh Penguins
There isn’t a group of people happier to be in Pittsburgh right now than the Penguins. After winning their first two games at home, they came to Nashville and were rocked to the tunes of 5-1 and 4-1. Their commanding 2-0 series lead feels like ancient history and all the momentum is swaying against them.
For all the talk of being “resilient cup champions”, the Penguins appear to have completely lost their composure in Nashville. Sidney Crosby appears to be rattled by a simple mouthwash joke and has more than lost his cool.
Evgeni Malkin also doesn’t have a great look, trying to fight Filip Forsberg as the Predators winger just laughs at him.
Goaltender Matt Murray also appeared rattled. Perhaps the chanting of the Smashville faithful echoed throughout his head a little too much, or it could have been the fact that he let in eight goals in two games. Nevertheless, he looked far from his normal self and played poorly in Nashville. His performance raised talk that Marc-Andre Fleury could replace him, but that will not be the case.
Mike Sullivan confirms Matt Murray as the Penguins' starter, but you already knew that.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) June 8, 2017
Accordingly, Predators, keep shooting high glove side. Merci.
The Nashville Predators
The return of Colin Wilson is nigh!
Colin Wilson is taking rushes with Frederick Gaudreau and Harry Zolnierczyk.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) June 8, 2017
Now, if that’s not a wonderful fourth line, I don’t know what is. The Predators have yet to lose in these finals when Cody McLeod and Vernon Fiddler are not in the lineup. The adjustments made by Peter Laviolette have worked out beautifully. I think that Wilson will absolutely compliment the vision and smarts that rookie sensation Frederick Gaudreau has displayed.
Only players not on ice for Predators optional are Neal, Smith and Watson.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) June 8, 2017
Today’s morning skate was optional, so there is not a great indication of what lines Laviolette will deploy tonight. There likely is no need to be overly concerned about Neal, Smith, and Watson. If there was, there would be much more noise about McLeod and Fiddler.
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops in Pittsburgh at 7:00ct. The game will be televised nationally through NBC. Otherwise, you can catch the Predators on the radio at 102.5.