The home ice team winning trend of the Stanley Cup continued Thursday night as Pittsburgh won their 3rd home game of the series. Except this game was no win, it was a massive blowout.
Many doubts and bad expectations were shared among NHL fans rooting for the Pens heading into this game. People thought Nashville might win on the road and have a 3-2 advantage after game 5. Penguins players thought otherwise. Pittsburgh came out into game 5 on a clear mission, scoring 3 goals in period 1, and another 3 in period 2. No scoring from either team in the third led to a 6-0 blowout by the penguins.
Right into the start of the game, Sidney Crosby made a world-class move through both preds defenders, got tripped drawing a penalty, and hit the post on his shot while falling. The Penguins would score on that Powerplay, a blast from breakout player Justin Schultz at the point was able to sneak through Rinne’s fivehole. Crosby setup the goal. Quickly after Bryan Rust scored a big goal for the pens on a backhand top shelf giving the penguins an early 2-0 lead. The next goal would not occur despite A grade chances for both teams until 20 seconds were left in the period. Matching penalties were assessed to stars Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban as they got tangled up, Subban held Crosby’s skate and would not let him go, so Crosby started to unstrap Subban’s helmet. During that 4 on 4, Phil Kessel delayed the puck enough time to get it to Evgeny Malkin for a one time goal in the same spot Rust scored, top glove. This goal was a backbreaker for Nashville, occuring with only 20 seconds left before period two.
Connor Sheary opened period 2’s scoring off a sweet assist from Crosby on Nashville’s backup goalie. Crosby also manufactured another assist on the penguins 5th goal, an absolute laser from Phil Kessel in the slot. The last goal of the game was Ron Hainsey’s, after he made a nice move to dodge a hit, crashed the net and got a tap in goal from Evgeny Malkin’s assist.
The third period got ugly, with a combined 90 penalty minutes in the period. Multiple fights occurred, match penalty’s were handed out, possible suspension facing a predator player for cross checking to the face on a pens player. It was not pretty.
The penguins sent a massive statement out to Nashville in game 5. Nashville is certain to respond, but odds are not in their favor. Game 6 is Sunday night in Nashville, and the Stanley Cup will be present. Will Nashville force a game 7? Or will the Pens repeat winning the Cup in 6 games? Legacies are on the line, whether that is cementing a legacy for the penguins or the start of a future legacy to come in Nashville.