Nashville brought their A game in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Everyone in the lineup, starting in the back from goaltender Pekka Rinne, all the way up to the defenders in front and the forwards all played stellar.
The game started off with the Conn-Smythe leading favorite rookie forward Jake Guentzel scoring a few minutes into the game in period 1. It was all Pittsburgh in period 1, and the hockey world was thinking, “Is Pittsburgh going to win and be up 3-0?” “Will Pittsburgh sweep the Preds in the Stanley Cup?”
Nashville thought otherwise, and in the 2nd period, they opened up the scoring. A one-time shot from Roman Josi found its way past Matt Murray and into the back of the net after hitting off a Penguin’s glove from trying to block the shot. Josi tied the game at 1-1. Then 40 seconds later, a beautiful shot from Frederick Gaudreau was sniped past Murray’s glove side as Gaudreau used a Pens defender as a screen. 2-1 was the score for most of the period, until former Penguin James Neal scored a weird goal from the side of Murray with only 22 seconds remaining in the period. This goal was a backbreaker for the Pens. The 3rd period saw only the predators score two more times, goals by Veteran Craig Smith and Mattias Ekholm. Five unanswered goals powered the Predators past the Pens in game 3 for their 5-1 dominating win.
Pekka Rinne played stellar as his true self, and Roman Josi had 3 points (1G, 2A) to carry the Preds from the back end. Nashville is the leading team in the regular season and postseason for points by defenders. If Nashville is going to keep looking to win, it is going to require their Goalie Pekka Rinne to keep playing great, and their defense to not only play great but to put up play that leads into goals, which they have done all year.
On the other hand, if Pittsburgh is looking to win, they will need better play from Matt Murray, better forechecking from the forwards, better defense by the defenders, and a better special teams performance. Both teams have good Penalty Killing units, and good Powerplays, but the Preds have done a better job so far. In Game 2 and 3 combined, the Penguins are 0/10 on the powerplay, and have only managed to get 3 shots. Nashville is a good penalty killing team (#1, 90%), but Pittsburgh has the #1 powerplay and those numbers are pathetic and will not win games.
A pivotal Game 4 in on the way coming up Monday 6/5/17. The Penguins could take a commanding 3-1 series lead or Nashville could tie up the series at 2-2, making it a best of three series.