The Pittsburgh Penguins executed their return to PPG Paints Arena flawlessly. The Penguins earned a 6-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Stanley Cup Final Game 5.
Pittsburgh Penguins Demolish Nashville Predators in Stanley Cup Final Game 5
Home is Where the Wins Are
The Penguins conquered the Nashville Predators tonight at PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh came out of the gate flying through the neutral zone, taking advantage of Nashville’s unsteady puck handling. Pekka Rinne played especially uneven to begin the game. Rinne’s usual desire to play the puck completely backfired on him. He turned it over several times behind his net, allowing the Penguins grade-A shooting opportunities. Rinne was benched in favor of Juuse Saros to start the second period, which provided little relief for the Predators. 23-year-old Matt Murray was very comfortable, earning his second shutout this post-season, stopping all 24 shots.
Coming into tonight’s contest, each team had nine home wins this post-season. After Game 5’s final buzzer, the series visitors remain winless. Bridgestone Arena and PPG Paints Arena, drenched in yellow, heckle the opposition ruthlessly and it’s no surprise that hometown chemistry seeps into the players bodies. All Nashville can look forward to is game six’s familiar territory to hopefully recharge.
Pittsburgh’s Top Players Deliver
Fueled by disappointment in Nashville, Pittsburgh’s best players arrived tonight with a vengeance. Sidney Crosby was dominant from the start, using his body to break up the Predators’ defense and get a quality chance against Rinne in the first period. Crosby then continued to muscle his way through the night to create opportunities for his teammates. His primary assist on Justin Schultz‘s opening goal broke the Penguins power play drought. Connor Sheary also sank a sweet birthday goal for his 25th thanks to Crosby’s slick backhanded feed. Crosby ended the night with three points.
Phil Kessel also earned three points, including his wrister past Saros to make it 5-0 Penguins, with a secondary assist by Crosby. Evgeni Malkin continued to assert dominance and top-shelved a tally as the first period expired. Kessel earned the primary assist on Malkin’s goal. Additionally, Malkin gained a helper on Ron Hainsey‘s goal at the send of the second, raising his total to two points.
Whether you call it playoff hockey or boyish antics, behavior in the Stanley Cup playoffs toes the line of the acceptable. Tonight was no different. Mid-way through the second period Crosby chucked a water bottle towards the opposing team. Crosby deserved a game misconduct for this overreaction but referees left him undisciplined. Adding to tonight’s antics, Crosby was left with a mere equalizer after choke-holding P.K. Subban and roughly holding his helmet to the ice to end period one. NBC Sports commentator Mike Millbury said Subban “had it coming” and Crosby “knew he could get away with it,” which was not welcome or rightful commentary.
Viewing Crosby’s behavior through rose-colored glasses is nothing new in the NHL but tonight it was blatantly obvious. As a leader, he should be held to the same standard as his teammates and fellow NHL captains.
The Penguins are one win away from consecutive Stanley Cup Championships. Game six is in Nashville Sunday evening.