Defencemen help Penguins play fast in Stanley Cup Final

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) tangles with Nashville Predators' P.K. Subban (76) during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh. After allowing just two goals in 119:25 of ice time during wins in Games 3 and 4 at home, Rinne allowed three in the first 6:43 of Game 5 on the road and another late when Malkin beat him.

The vibe inside PPG Paints Arena for Game 5 on Thursday night figures to be more anxious than anticipatory after the Predators evened the series at 2-2 with a pair of vintage performances on home ice that sent "Smashville" into a frenzy and delivered a very clear message that the first-timers are a clear threat to become first-time winners. However, he chose to return the favor for his team, and offer up a gift of his own for his Penguins.

Crosby, Malkin and playoffs goals leader Jake Guentzel would seem to be the favorites to win the playoff MVP if the Penguins close out the series. He managed to get the puck to a crashing Malkin, who whipped it past Preds goalie Pekka Rinne with 10.2 seconds left to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

The defending champions provided an emphatic and repeated reminder of what makes them such a hard out in a 6-0 demolition of the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-2 lead. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will likely have the chance to repeat as champions, and should get two chances to do so.

Not Crosby, who said Subban "likes the attention" and "wants to make stuff up".

Sidney Crosby had three assists, and goaltender Matt Murray had 24 stops in the shutout. He scored on Pittsburgh's first shot against backup Juuse Saros, who replaced Pekka Rinne at the intermission.

"Opportunities like this, they don't come around often, so you want to make the majority", Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. The two-time MVP ended up on top of a stickless Subban and attempted to get up only to have Subban refuse to let go of Crosby's right leg.

That's nearly too silly to believe it actually happened in a Stanley Cup Final game.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup in consecutive seasons in almost two decades since Detroit repeated in 1997 and 1998.

Moments earlier, a Predators fan had thrown a catfish on to the ice. Pittsburgh C Nick Bonino missed his third straight game.

Now that the Penguins have a better grasp on how to play against the Predators, they're confident they have a strong plan of attack for Game 6. He missed the first couple of weeks of the season with a concussion, then returned to lead the National Hockey League in goals. If the game's best player is turning it up a notch with the Cup one win away, Laviolette has a big problem because he doesn't have anyone in Crosby's stratosphere. "I think both teams have gotten better throughout the series and that's expected".

All four of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cups have been clinched on the road with Chicago the last team to win the Cup on home ice back in 2015.

Still, such a decisive victory might indicate that the Penguins have figured out the best plan of attack against the Predators.

Not that the Penguins gave them much of a chance. Nashville F Colin Wilson made his series debut after missing the first four games with an undisclosed injury.

The 27-year-old forward scored 12 goals in the regular season for Nashville.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as he has for each of the last two springs when his team finds itself in a tight spot, pushed all the right buttons again.

The series was tied 2-2.

  • Angelo Rivera