The Pittsburgh Penguins emerged eager to win in Nashville Monday night. Despite repeated blocked shots, aggressive offense and fast wheels, it wasn’t enough for the visitors in white. The Nashville Predators elevated their play to earn a thrilling 4-1 Stanley Cup Final Game 4 victory.
Nashville Predators Dominate; Tie Series in Stanley Cup Final Game 4
Zeroes to Heroes
With integral players like Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen sidelined with injury, unlikely heroes are rising in Nashville. Tonight, that was Frederick Gaudreau. Gaudreau netted his third goal in the Stanley Cup final. At 15:40 a delayed horn signaled that his wraparound attempt had bypassed Matthew Murray‘s pad, sinking Nashville’s second goal.
Gaudreau, an undrafted Canadian continues to happily surprise Nashville despite tonight being his 15th NHL game ever. Gaudreau is the second player in NHL history with their first three goals in the Stanley Cup Final. John Harms with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1944 was the first, and last, player to reach that milestone.
The Predators’ first goal was scored by another player that often flies under the radar, Calle Jarnkrok. With two assists in game three and the opening goal tonight, Jarnkrok raised his playoff point total to six. Assists came from Craig Smith and Austin Watson.
Rinne Right at Home
Pekka Rinne has been suburb all post-season, no question. However, games one and two had Nashville fans nervous and Penguins fans giddy. Back home in Nashville, Rinne returned to his winning ways with spectacular performances in games three and four. At nearly the 11 minute mark of the second period, Rinne had his best sequence of the night. The Finnish netminder stopped the initial shot, two rebound and final sprawled post-to-post to keep the Predators on top. Rinne finished the night with 25 saves, including 21 straight post-Sidney Crosby‘s tally, and a well-deserved confidence boost.
Matt Murray remained lackluster compared to Rinne in Music City. The Predators quickly learned the glove side was Murray’s weak spot, and their sweet spot. Viktor Arvidsson sniped that target tonight thanks to a breakaway on back-to-back diving passes from James Neal and Mike Fisher. Murray stopped 21 of 24 shots in tonight’s contest.
There’s Something in the Water
Everyone loves a good underdog story. Nashville however never saw themselves as one. Just ask their fan base. Mike Fisher’s wife, and country superstar Carrie Underwood, noted that Nashville has always been behind this team. This year, that couldn’t be more true. The Predators sold out every regular season game and every post-season game for the 2016-17 season.
Nashville’s glittering home record this post-season has bolstered downtown Nashville into a full blown hockey town. With catfish raining from the rafters, adorned in top hats and chomping on Penguins and spray painted “smash cars,” there’s electricity feeding Bridgestone Arena throughout this historic run.
The Predators need to bottle their home crowd’s Southern spirit in order to remain dominant in Pittsburgh. Game 5 begins at 8:00pm EST on Thursday, June 8th.