[B][I]Preview: Predators (41-29) at Penguins (50-21)
Date: May 31, 2017 8:00 PM EDT[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH — It’s normal for a playoff series to gain context over the first game or two or three.
You can probably throw that out the window with the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, who meet Wednesday in Game 2 at PPG Paints Arena. After what happened in the series opener, it’s anyone’s guess in what direction things might be heading.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan called his team’s 5-3 win Monday in Game 1 “bizarre.”
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette found himself juxtaposing praise for the way his team played with this: “We hate the result. Right now we are 100 percent in a result-orientated business. I would rather be in their shoes. I would rather have that Game 1 win because you need four out of seven. Now it’s down to six to try to grab the four.”
The Penguins won, but weren’t wholly happy because they blew a three-goal lead and went 37 minutes without a shot on goal. The Predators lost but seemed genuinely satisfied with the effort if not the outcome.
A lot of times, the team coming off of a loss will practice while a winning club will stay off the ice. The opposite happened Tuesday, with Pittsburgh holding a fairly well-attended optional skate.
Sullivan even was asked Tuesday if he believed in divine intervention or his team being some sort of team of destiny for winning games like that and overcoming a series of injuries this postseason.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think our team has an ability to win games different ways. One of the strengths of this team is the quick-strike ability. We can be opportunistic, and when we get high-quality chances we have some people that can finish.”
That’s a general description of the Penguins through Sullivan’s eyes. Analyzing Game 1 specifically is more difficult.
“It’s hard to kind of put a finger on why it turned out the way it did,” said Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray, who made 23 saves. “I think we were just glad to get the win at the end of the night. … I think it just came down to big plays at big times. Not a dominant performance, of course, by any means, but we got it done.”
So both teams found reason to be optimistic, the Penguins because they are coming off a win, and the Predators because even in a loss they didn’t stray far from their blueprint and believe they can bounce back to split the two games in Pittsburgh before the series shifts to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
“I think our team has been tested many times this season, whether we’ve had guys out of the lineup or we’ve gone through rough patches,” Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said. “We’ve always responded the right way.”
In Game 1, it came down to Pittsburgh being able to beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne four times on 11 shots (the Penguins also had an empty-net goal).
Rinne is an elite goalie, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and the team’s longest-tenured player. He carried a postseason-best 1.70 goals-against average into the series.
But the Penguins have given him problems in the limited sample of nine games he has faced them. During the regular season in his career, he is 1-5-2 against them in eight starts, and his .880 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against average are his worst against any club.
“I expect him to bounce back,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “He’s a terrific goalie. He’s been our MVP all year.”
Then again, the way Game 1 went, there’s no telling what might happen in Game 2.
[B][I]NHL HEAD TO HEAD[/I][/B]
May 29, 2017 Score ATS Results
NAS 3 Over: 8
PIT « 5 Cover: 232
Jan 31, 2017 Score ATS Results
NAS 2 Over: 6
PIT « 4 Cover: 222
Oct 22, 2016 Score ATS Results
PIT 1 Cover: 286
NAS « 5 Over: 6
Mar 31, 2016 Score ATS Results
NAS 2 Over: 7
PIT « 5 Cover: 248
Oct 24, 2015 Score ATS Results
PIT « 2 Under: 3
NAS 1 Cover: 239
[B][I]Malkin focused on titles, not stardom
May 30, 2017[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH (AP) Just about anywhere else in the NHL, Evgeni Malkin would be ”The Guy.”
The captain. The unquestioned leader. The brightest star. The fulcrum around which to build a franchise.
Yet he has found comfort, peace and freedom in Pittsburgh, where the player everyone calls ”Geno” has spent the last 11 years not as ”The Guy” but ”The Other Guy.” That’s not a slight. How can it be when the player a few stalls over in the dressing room happens to be a good friend and the best player in the world?
Sure, if he played in another market, Malkin would be the centerpiece. Why do that when you get to chase Stanley Cups every spring with Sidney Crosby?
”I don’t want to be No. 1 in Carolina,” Malkin said on the eve of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup Final date with Nashville. ”I want to be better (with) Sid.”
And occasionally more dangerous than Sid.
It’s Malkin, not Crosby, who leads the league in scoring during the playoffs. The big Russian’s power-play goal in Pittsburgh’s 5-3 Game 1 victory over the Predators gave him 25 points in 20 games, just ahead of Crosby’s 22 in 19. If the Penguins find a way to fend off Nashville and raise the Cup for a second straight year and the third time in the Crosby and Malkin era, it could be Malkin who walks away with a second Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP.
Not that Malkin is keeping track. Point out he won his Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2012 during a season in which Crosby was limited to just 22 games due to a concussion, Malkin shrugs. When he was left off the NHL’s list of 100 greatest players released at the All-Star Break, he cracked a couple of jokes and moved on. Asked to revisit the omission over the weekend, Malkin responded with typical bluntness.
”No, I don’t care, my record is Cups,” Malkin said. ”If I win like one more Cup, it’s like my record. I not think about points. It’s only team.”
If Crosby is the Penguins’ captain and conscience, Malkin is their id. While the unfailingly understated Crosby searches for the right thing to say, Malkin usually only pipes up when there’s something he needs to get off his chest.
After Pittsburgh failed to close out Ottawa in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Malkin groused about the need for him to be better even though he was the best player in black and gold on a night his sublime second-period goal gave Pittsburgh a lead it couldn’t quite hold. That’s just Geno being Geno.
”He plays a pretty emotional game,” Crosby said. ”His game is skilled, but physically he’s not afraid to engage.”
That fearlessness, however, can make it appear at times that the 30-year-old is indestructible. He’s not. He gritted his way through the 2016 playoffs despite searing pain in his right elbow, not that it stopped him from putting up six goals and 12 assists as the Penguins won their fourth Cup.
The victory last spring served as validation for both Crosby and Malkin following a string of spring flameouts that left some wondering if the Penguins would be better off with just one franchise center instead of two. It’s a sentiment that always struck Malkin as odd.
Malkin fled Russia and the Kontinental Hockey League a few weeks after his 20th birthday in 2006 to begin a new life 5,500 miles away from home. He forged a bond with another generational talent, one whose own greatness has forced Malkin not to take his own for granted. He could have chosen to explore free agency three years ago but instead signed an eight-year extension with Pittsburgh long before he hit the open market.
”I sign big deal here because I feel we can win every year,” Malkin said. ”I want to play with Sid long time. I want to be like – it’s good competition between me and Sid.”
While KHL officials have spoken publically about making a run at Russian stars this summer – dangling the chance to play in the Olympics after the NHL decided it would not send its players to South Korea next February as part of the bait – Malkin wants no part of it.
He’ll always be a Russian. His life, however, is now in Pittsburgh. His son, Nikita, turns 1 on Wednesday. While fatherhood has mellowed Malkin off the ice – he joked he’s gone out ”zero times” since Nikita’s birth – he remains fully engaged on it.
”I come to rink every day smiling,” Malkin said. ”I want to try new sticks, new skates. I’m still (excited) to play. If we win one more Cup, it’s amazing. If I win one more MVP, it’s amazing. I try and be better.”
When he’s at his best, there are few who can keep up. When the Penguins were at risk of botching a 5-on-3 power play late in the first period of Game 1, it was Malkin who took command. While his teammates searched for the perfect shot, Malkin opted to just blast one at Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. The puck squeezed through to give the Penguins an early lead and set the tone for a three-goal outburst by the time first-period horn sounded.
A few hours later Malkin was back home, focusing on being what he calls being ”a good dad, not just a good hockey dad.”
Nikita is still too young to realize what his father does for a living. Still, Malkin is well aware of the legacy he’s creating one shift at a time, one that isn’t focused on selling more No. 71 jerseys but more mid-June Cup parades through his adopted hometown.
”I know when (Nikita) growing up, he’s like 2 years old, 3 years old, he start understanding,” Malkin said. ”I hope he’s little bit proud to me.”
[B][I]Pens wary, Preds confident entering Game 2
May 30, 2017[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH (AP) The winning team went nearly two full periods without a shot. The hottest goaltender in the playoffs was only tested 11 times in 58 minutes – and lost.
No wonder Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan described his team’s 5-3 victory over Nashville in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as ”bizarre.”
And that doesn’t even include the catfish tossed onto the ice by a Predators fan at PPG Paints Arena in the middle of a second period. The fish that splatted on the Nashville blue line earned the thrower three misdemeanor charges and also came as close to Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne as anything the Penguins managed during 20 minutes in which the highest-scoring team in the league couldn’t even muster a single shot.
”It’s not always pretty,” Sullivan said Tuesday. ”We don’t get points for style. But what I love about our team is that we find ways to win, we compete.”
True, though for the majority of Game 1, the competition was pretty one-sided. The Predators controlled the pace and the puck, just not the scoreboard. It left the guys from ”Smashville” in a new position for the first time since they began their mad dash to the final a month ago: chaser instead of chasee as Game 2 looms on Wednesday night.
”Now we face a little adversity,” said defenseman Ryan Ellis, who scored the first Stanley Cup Final goal in team history. ”We see what kind of group and character we have to bounce back.”
The Predators haven’t dropped consecutive games in the postseason and their four previous losses were pretty easy to explain. What happened on Monday night was not. The only area where Nashville wasn’t markedly better than the defending Stanley Cup champions is the only one that really matters.
”Everything was there that we liked but the result,” Ellis said.
Ellis described the Predators as more disappointed than mad. You can probably add baffled to the list. Nashville became the first team since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1957 to hold a team without a shot for an entire period during the Stanley Cup Final. The gulf actually stretched 37 minutes in all, which sounds like a perfect way for the opponent to win.
Except the streak was bookended by goals. The first, a ricochet off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm, gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the first period. The second, a sniper shot by Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel exactly 37 minutes later, put Pittsburgh back in front to stay at 4-3.
The angst Nashville felt isn’t new to those who face the Penguins. Pittsburgh was outshot throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs. It didn’t stop the Penguins from knocking off Columbus in five games and Washington in seven. There’s a bit of a changeling quality to this group as opposed to the one that beat San Jose in six games to win the Cup last spring.
Sullivan calls it the ability to ”win games different ways,” but what happened in Game 1 seems borderline impossible. The Penguins understand they were equal parts lucky and good. They also understand they can’t afford to have their offense go dormant for nearly two periods.
Only a handful of Penguins participated in a skate on Tuesday, though the video room was crowded while they searched for ways to make sure a funk like that doesn’t happen again.
”We know that’s not necessarily the way you want to play the game every night,” Crosby said.
The Predators are more focused on the process than the end product. Save for a bumpy stretch near the end of the first period where the Penguins scored three times, Nashville did exactly what it wanted to do. Defenseman P.K. Subban pointed to the response after falling behind by three as proof the stage is not too big.
”It’s easy in a Stanley Cup game to come back in the room, everybody is quiet, nerves,” Subban said. ”But that’s not our hockey club. We know how good we can be. The way we responded was typical Nashville Predators.”
Typical for everyone except Rinne. The 34-year-old goalie is the main reason Nashville’s season will extend into June for the first time. Yet his iffy play in Game 1 continued a troubling trend. He came into the series 1-5-2 with a .880 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against average in his career against the Penguins, numbers that ticked in the wrong direction even though he spent a majority of three periods standing in his crease with nothing to do while his teammates were at work at the other end of the ice.
Rinne’s teammates rallied to his defense. They’re well aware that without him they likely would have traded their sticks for golf clubs long ago.
”Looking back since I came here a couple years ago, he’s been the best player in almost all of the games played,” Filip Forsberg said. ”We have all the belief in Pekks we can ever have. I’m looking forward to see him play next game.”
[B][I]NHL notebook: Senators’ Brassard to miss 4-5 months after shoulder surgery
May 30, 2017[/I][/B]
Ottawa Senators forward Derick Brassard will undergo shoulder surgery that will likely sideline him for four to five months, the team announced Tuesday.
Brassard has a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The recovery timeframe could cause Brassard to miss the beginning of next season.
Brassard, 29, tallied 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) this season, his first with the Senators. He scored 141 goals and registered 382 points in 10 NHL seasons.
–Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky underwent wrist surgery and will be sidelined approximately three months.
“Brandon had been experiencing discomfort in his wrist since the season ended and after an examination last week it was determined that surgery was the best course of action at this time,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.
Dubinsky, 31, scored 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) last season.Overall, Dubinsky has scored 141 goals and 408 points over 11 NHL campaigns.
–The New York Islanders announced that Scott Gomez has been named an assistant coach.
Gomez, who retired after the 2015-16 season after 16 NHL seasons, won a Calder Memorial Trophy in 1999-00 as the league’s top rookie, as well as two Stanley Cup Championships with the New Jersey Devils (2000, 2003).
A two-time NHL All-Star, Gomez scored 181 goals and added 575 assists with the Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators.
–The Minnesota Wild announced that assistant coach Scott Stevens resigned from his position so he can spend more time with his family.
Stevens, a hard-hitting Hall-Of-Fame defenseman in his playing days, spent one season as an assistant coach with Minnesota. The Wild went 49-25-8 during the 2016-17 regular season, setting franchise records for most wins and points (106) in a season.
Before joining the Wild, Stevens served as an analyst for NHL Network. He was named co-coach for New Jersey on Dec. 27, 2014, after serving two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant coach for the Devils.
The defenseman spent 13 of his 22 NHL seasons with New Jersey and captained the team to three Stanley Cup Championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003.
–The Los Angeles Kings named Dave Lowry as an assistant coach.
Lowry’s coaching resume includes experience at the NHL and Western Hockey League (WHL) levels.
Most recently, Lowry served as the head coach for the Victoria Royals (WHL) for the last five seasons. His club posted a winning record each season and the club made the playoffs all five years. Overall, the team posted a 209-124-27 record under Lowry.
In 2003-04, Lowry concluded his NHL playing career. He broke in with the Vancouver Canucks in 1985 and went on to play for the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames, where he served as team captain. In his 1,084 career NHL regular season games, Lowry totaled 351 points and 1191 penalty minutes.
[B][I]Letang had trouble watching Stanley Cup opener
May 30, 2017[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH — If the Pittsburgh Penguins found parts of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators difficult to navigate, and if their fans found it hard to watch at times, perhaps they should all be grateful they were not sitting with Kris Letang.
“I think when I’m sitting in the (press) box up there, the people sitting next to me don’t really like me,” the injured Penguins defenseman said with a grin Tuesday, the first time he has spoken publicly since he had season-ending surgery the second week of April for a herniated disc in his neck.
“I’m screaming. I don’t work the best way by watching.”
Letang, 30, Pittsburgh’s top defenseman, is a smooth-skating, two-way blue-liner who plays big minutes and whose puck-moving skills help with breakouts and production — despite several injury and illness setbacks, he is approaching 300 assists and 400 points in his career.
Letang also has 18 goals, 68 points in 116 career playoff games.
The Penguins surely could have used him Monday night. Perhaps their 5-3 victory might have come a bit more easily.
The Predators spotted Pittsburgh an early three-goal lead, then mounted a comeback to tie it while holding the Penguins without a shot for 37 minutes, including all of the second period and most of the third.
Letang said his recovery is going well and he hopes to get clearance to get back on the ice soon, but with an original four- to six-month recovery time, there is no chance he will play in this series.
Game 2 is Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena.
His absence led a lot of prognosticators to say the same about Pittsburgh’s chances of making a deep postseason run or winning the Cup — no chance.
The Penguins have made conscious adjustments with their defense, most conspicuously spreading minutes fairly evenly rather than asking any player to step into Letang’s go-to role.
Letang, shortly before his surgery, swore his belief in his teammates, particularly team offensive and spiritual leaders such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
He predicted Pittsburgh could win the Cup for the second straight year.
“For the people who were rolling their eyes, you’ve all seen Sidney Crosby’s demeanor, what he wants to accomplish,” Letang said. “He’s a guy that you can look up to. I was confident to say that in front of a lot of people.”
Coach Mike Sullivan has recruited Letang to help in other ways.
Letang, popular with his teammates, is encouraged to be around the club. He travels to road games. He announces the starting lineup before each game in the locker room.
On a more practical level, Letang sits in on some coaches’ meetings and has informal conversations with the defensemen, whether it’s individually, by the pairing or with the full group, according to Sullivan.
“We wish we had him in the lineup, but in the absence of that he’s a great set of eyes,” Sullivan said. “He has so much to offer this group, both our coaching staff and the team as a whole, even though he’s not in our lineup.”
Letang just might be coaching himself, too.
“You kind of realize things that you don’t really see at the ice level,” he said. “I think as a player, I’m going to learn a lot, too, watching in different situations. It’s easy now to go down and tell those guys, ‘Hey, this is open. You might not feel like it, but this is open.’
“It’s a different aspect. I always try to think when you’re watching a game, you’re actually getting better, you’re learning more.”
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]Wednesday’s NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Betting Preview: Predators at Penguins[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[I]Jake Guentzel ended an eight-game drought and tied Claude Lemieux (1986) and Chris Drury (1999) for the most game-winning goals by a rookie in the playoffs with four.[/I]
[B]Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins (-150, 5.5)[/B]
[I]Pens lead series 1-0[/I]
If it were a boxing match, the referee may have stopped the fight. Fortunately for the Pittsburgh Penguins, their heavyweight showdown versus Nashville was scored by the quality of the blows that they landed, allowing them to take a 1-0 series lead into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the visiting Predators on Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh’s 5-3 victory Monday night came in inexplicable fashion — the Penguins built and blew a three-goal lead before Jake Guentzel delivered the late tiebreaking tally after his team went more than 37 minutes without registering a shot on net. “It’s not textbook,” said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby after the Penguins finished with the fewest shots on goal (12) by a winning team in Stanley Cup history. “We’ve got some things we need to improve on.” The Predators, who are trailing in a series for the first time this postseason, are trying to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time before the best-of-seven set shifts to Nashville. “I thought our guys played great,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after Monday’s game. “We hate the score, we hate the result, but we’ll move forward.”
[B]TV:[/B] 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS
[B]LINE HISTORY:[/B] The Penguins opened as -170 home favorites for Game 2 and the public must have liked what they saw from the Preds in the opener because by Tuesday night the moneyline was down to -150. The total opened at 5 and was quickly bumped up to 5.5.
[B]GOALIE MATCHUP:[/B] Pekka Rinne (NAS) vs. Matt Murray (PIT)
Rinne – GP: 17, W/L: 12-5, 1.83 GAA, .934 SAVE %, 2 SO
Murray – GP: 6, W/L: 4-1, 1.62 GAA, .936 SAVE %, 1 SO
Predators – LW C. Wilson (Questionable, undisclosed), C R. Johansen (Out For Season, thigh), LW K. Fiala (Out For Season, leg).
Penguins – RW T. Kuhnhackl (Questionable, lower body), D C. Ruhwedel (Questionable, concussion), D K. Letang (Out for season, neck).
[B]ABOUT THE PREDATORS (53-33-9-4, 45-42 O/U):[/B] Pekka Rinne’s save percentage has steady decreased since opening the postseason with consecutive shutouts in Chicago, but he’s eager to atone after allowing four goals on 11 shots Monday. “That’s the best part in the playoffs,” Rinne said. “You always get another opportunity, and that’s going to happen on Wednesday, so I’m looking forward to that.” Colton Sissons continues to shine in place of injured No. 1 center Ryan Johansen with four goals in two games while center Mike Fisher returned from injury to collect two assists — his first points of the playoffs.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (63-26-8-5, 56-39 O/U):[/B] Pittsburgh received the secondary scoring it had been missing as Conor Sheary, a 23-goal scorer during the regular season, notched his first of the playoffs and Guentzel registered his 10th of the postseason to lead all goal scorers. Guentzel ended an eight-game drought and tied Claude Lemieux (1986) and Chris Drury (1999) for the most game-winning goals by a rookie in the playoffs with four. Crosby matched Chris Kunitz with a pair of assists for his 55th career multiple-point game in the postseason, eclipsing Joe Sakic for sixth place on the all-time list.
* Predators are 0-4 in their last 4 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Penguins are 1-9 in their last 10 when their opponent allows 5 goals or more in their previous game.
* Over is 5-1 in Predators last 6 after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game.
* Under is 8-2 in Penguins last 10 Stanley Cup Finals games.
* Predators are 2-9 in the last 11 meetings.
CONSENSUS:[/B] 60 percent of users are siding with the home favorite Penguins and 52 percent of the totals wagers are on the Under.
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#B22222″][B]High-scoring hockey has been followed by Under results in Stanley Cup final[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[I]Going back to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, playing the Under following an Over result is a perfect 7-0 winner. Game 2’s total is at 5.5 goals.[/I]
[B]A wild and crazy Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final produced a total of eight goals Monday night – the highest scoring Stanley Cup final game since Game 2 of the 2014 final and just the 21st time a Cup final game has gone Over the betting total since the 2005 NHL lockout.[/B]
The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period then were locked down by the Nashville Predators, who stormed back to tie the game 3-3 before conceding the game-winning goal and an empty net marker in the closing minutes of the third period. And that was without a first-period score from Nashville that was disallowed after review.
That 5-3 final score eclipsed the 5.5-goal total for Game 1 and sets up an interesting angle for total bettors heading into Game 2 Wednesday night, which opened with the total at 5.5 goals.
Since the lockout, Stanley Cup final games following an Over result are 4-12-1 Over/Under (75 percent Under), with three Over results coming in the deciding game of a series (no following game). The average combined score in those contests following an Over is just 4.3 goals.
Hockey betting action heating up in Vegas as puck drops on Stanley Cup final: Live From Las Vegas
The puck drops on the Stanley Cup final, and Las Vegas sportsbooks are bracing for a burst of betting action in the hours before Game 1. We talk to Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports at the Wynn Las Vegas, about the Penguins and Predators and which team the bettors like to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
In fact, going back to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, playing the Under following an Over has produced a perfect 7-0 streak. And, if you take the 2010 final out of the equation – which saw the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers top the total in five of six games – you get a Over/Under record of 1-11-1 in Cup final games following an Over since 2006.
Before Game 1, the Penguins entered the Cup final with a 8-9-2 Over/Under record in the NHL playoffs while the Predators posted a 3-7-6 O/U mark in their first three postseason series. Pittsburgh is 3-3-1 O/U following an Over in these playoffs, with Nashville going 1-1-1 O/U after an Over result.
Game 2 opened with the total at 5.5 goals (Over +110, Under -130).
[B]NASHVILLE (53-33-0-13, 119 pts.) at PITTSBURGH (63-26-0-13, 139 pts.) – 5/31/2017, 8:00 PM [/B]
Top Trends for this game.
NASHVILLE is 30-35 ATS (-18.6 Units) in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons.
PITTSBURGH is 127-81 ATS (+42.6 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
PITTSBURGH is 84-49 ATS (-3.5 Units) second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
PITTSBURGH is 47-30 ATS (+9.8 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
NASHVILLE is 242-194 ATS (+32.3 Units) revenging a loss versus opponent since 1996.
NASHVILLE is 33-20 ATS (+11.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
NASHVILLE is 25-13 ATS (+11.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.
Head-to-Head Series History
PITTSBURGH is 5-2 (+2.5 Units) against the spread versus NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
PITTSBURGH is 5-2-0 straight up against NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
4 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+1.1 Units)
Wednesday, May 31[/B]
Pittsburgh didn’t get a shot on goal for 37:09 stretch in Game 1, still won 5-3. Nashville won five of last eight games overall- they’re 2-3 in last five road games. Under is 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. Penguins won last four home games by combined score of 16-5. Under is 4-3-2 in their last nine games. Pittsburgh is 9-2 in its last 11 games with the Predators; last four series games went over total. Nashville lost five of last six visits here. Penguins won Cup LY and in 2009; they’re 4-1 overall in Stanley Cup final series. Nashville is in its first Stanley Cup final.
[B]Stanley Cup final[/B]
Pitt 5-3, -$160, O5.5
[B]NASHVILLE vs. PITTSBURGH[/B]
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Nashville’s last 7 games when playing on the road against Pittsburgh
Nashville is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Pittsburgh’s last 7 games when playing at home against Nashville
Pittsburgh is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Nashville
[B][I]Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss
May 31, 2017[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH (AP) Prosecutors are dropping charges filed against a Tennessee man for throwing a catfish onto the rink in Pittsburgh during the opening of the Stanley Cup Final.
Thirty-six-year-old Jacob Waddell was charged in Allegheny County with disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime and disrupting meetings or processions after tossing the dead fish over the glass surrounding the rink Monday night during the Nashville Predators-Pittsburgh Penguins game.
District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a Facebook post Wednesday that Waddell’s actions ”do not rise to the level of criminal charges” so the charges ”will be withdrawn in a timely manner.”
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry had called for the charges to be ”quickly dismissed.”
Waddell called himself ”a dumb redneck with a bad idea” in a conversation with Nashville radio station WGFX-FM .
He says he sneaked the fish into the arena by hiding it between layers of underwear, running the fish over with his truck several times to make it easier to pack.
[B][I]Guentzel-led Pens take 2-0 lead vs. Preds
May 31, 2017[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH (AP) By coach Peter Laviolette’s math, the Nashville Predators have been pretty good for all but 10 minutes of the Stanley Cup Final.
It’s not much. Unless you’re playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then it’s too much. Way too much.
The defending Stanley Cup champions needed just over three minutes at the start of the third period to turn a taut Game 2 into a runaway, beating Pekka Rinne three times in a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night to inch closer to becoming the first team in nearly 20 years to win back-to-back titles.
The barrage started with Jake Guentzel. Mired in an eight-game goal drought heading into the series, the 22-year-old Nebraska-born rookie provided the winner in Game 1 and again in Game 2 when he pounded home a rebound just 10 seconds into the third for his third of the series and 12th of the playoffs.
”It’s crazy,” said Guentzel, who has an NHL rookie record five game-winning goals this postseason. ”You can’t even put into words what it feels. But we know the ultimate goal is two more wins and they’re going to be tough to get.”
Only if Rinne turns back into Rinne. The 34-year-old spent the first three rounds of the playoffs helping carry Nashville to the Final for the first time. Now he’s the biggest reason the Predators head back to ”Smashville” for Game 3 on Saturday night reeling. After giving up four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he allowed four more on 25 shots in Game 2. He was pulled when Evgeni Malkin ended Pittsburgh’s surge with his ninth of the playoffs 3:28 into the third.
Rinne entered the series with a .947 save percentage in the postseason. Against Pittsburgh, it’s at .777 and he remains winless in his career against the Penguins in games he’s started.
”The limited chances they’ve had they’ve done a good job,” Rinne said. ”Overall these two games, like I said, it’s disappointing to be down 2-0 but we have to be feeling still positive with the way we played as a whole and creating chances.”
Asked twice afterward if he was committed to starting Rinne on Saturday, Laviolette stressed Rinne has been ”terrific,” adding there are plenty of things the Predators can do better in front of him like stopping the odd-man rushes that allowed the Penguins to take charge.
”There’s a stretch they’re able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic and that swung two games in their favor,” he said.
Pontus Aberg scored the lone goal for the Predators , who were once again undone by a sudden barrage from the NHL’s highest-scoring team, though they haven’t lost faith in Rinne. Defenseman P.K. Subban said the team was ”extremely confident” and in the prospect of going home, where the Predators are 7-1 during the playoffs.
”We’re going to win the next game and then we’ll see what happens from there,” Subban said.
It wouldn’t take much to be better than what happened in Pittsburgh.
In Game 1, the Penguins pushed three goals by Rinne in a span of 4:11 in the first period to build a 3-0 lead. The Predators rallied to tie before Guentzel’s go-ahead goal with 3:17 remaining put the Penguins ahead to stay.
This time, Pittsburgh’s flurry came a little bit later. And it was once again led by the baby-faced son of a coach who has no problem shouldering the responsibility of playing alongside star Sidney Crosby.
The game was tied at 1 at the start of the third period when Guentzel jumped on a rebound to put Pittsburgh ahead. It was 1 second shy of the fastest goal to start a period in Final history.
Wilson was credited with his third of the playoffs just over 3 minutes later when a centering pass caromed off Nashville’s Vernon Fiddler and by Rinne. Malkin’s shot sent Rinne to the bench in favor of backup Juuse Saros, who made his playoff debut.
”When we score one, we don’t stop,” Malkin said. ”We want to score more. The first shift in the third period, we score. We want more. It’s our game. Never stop.”
Pittsburgh vowed to put more pressure on Rinne than it managed in their 5-3 victory in Game 1, a win they managed despite going 37 minutes without throwing a single puck Rinne’s way and none in the second period, the first time that’s happened since the NHL started tracking shots in 1957.
The Penguins matched their entire shot total from the opener (12) by the end of the first period but still found themselves trying to keep up with the Predators. The Stanley Cup newbies were disappointed but not dismayed by their Game 1 loss, pointing to the way they carried play for long stretches as tangible proof they weren’t just happy to be here.
The result was the kind of up-and-down play that showcased the speed on both sides and included more than a dash of antagonism, particularly early.
Nashville’s Matt Irwin drilled Pittsburgh’s Matt Cullen from behind into the boards in the first period, a hit that left the 40-year-old Cullen headed down the runway for a quick check but didn’t result in a penalty. Minutes later, Penguins forward Chris Kunitz became tangled up with P.K. Subban and ended up cross-checking Subban in the head, part of a sequence that saw Malkin go off for hooking. Malkin and Subban even ended up fighting in the third period when things got out of hand.
It was a scene hard to imagine through the first two taut and chippy periods.
Pittsburgh stayed in it thanks to Matt Murray (37 saves) and when Pittsburgh returned to the ice for the start of the third they, as coach Mike Sullivan is fond of saying, ”got to their game.”
A style that now has the Penguins two victories away from the cusp of a dynasty.
Pittsburgh won first two Finals games at home; they’re 10-2 in last 12 games with Nashville- four of last five series games went over. Predators won four of its last five home games; under is 7-3-2 in their last 11 games, 3-1-1 in last five at home. Pittsburgh is 2-3 in last five road games, scoring total of nine goals. Under is 4-3-2 in their last nine games. Penguins won Cup LY and in 2009; they’re 4-1 overall in Stanley Cup final series. Nashville is in its first Stanley Cup final.
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[B][I]Nashville’s Rinne’s struggles continue
May 31, 2017[/I][/B]
PITTSBURGH (AP) The Nashville Predators insist goaltender Pekka Rinne isn’t to blame for the 2-0 series deficit against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.
Rinne is just looking to put both games in the past.
Pittsburgh overwhelmed Rinne and the rest of the Predators with a three-goal blitz in the first 3:18 of the third period during a 4-1 win Wednesday night, a game that ended with Nashville’s star goaltender on the bench after he was pulled by coach Peter Laviolette. The coach did not commit to starting him when the series resumes this weekend, though he praised his goaltender throughout the postgame news conference.
”When you lose a couple games and get pulled, you’re not happy about how things went,” Rinne said. ”But you have to put those things behind and focus on the things you can control and that’s Game 3.”
That game is Saturday night in Nashville, and Rinne and the Predators are counting on a big dose of energy from a wild fan base that will be seeing the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final game at home.
”Our focus is Game 3 and going home to a crowd that’s going to be electric,” Predators’ captain Mike Fisher said. ”We’re going to feed off that energy and we’re going to be ready.”
Fifty teams have taken a 2-0 lead since the final went to a best-of-seven format in 1939. Of those, 90 percent went on to win the Stanley Cup, including Pittsburgh last season. Boston, in 2011, was the last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Final, rallying to defeat Vancouver in seven games. Pittsburgh also did it in 2009, losing both games on the road against Detroit.
”It’s obviously very disappointing right now, but it’s a series and we’re down 2-0 going home,” Rinne said. ”I think we’re looking forward to playing in front of our fans.”
Rinne was 4-0 in the playoffs following a loss, but he watched the majority of the third period as backup Juuse Saros made his playoff debut. The Penguins beat Rinne four times on just 11 shots in Game 1 and scored four goals on 25 shots Wednesday for their 2-0 series lead.
Rinne is a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist who entered the final as the hottest goaltender in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage. But he has never started and won a game against the Penguins, and he has looked decidedly shaky, posting a .777 save percentage, in the first two games of the biggest series of his life.
”For me, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Rinne said ”I’ve played a long time and this is my first time having a chance to play for the Cup. I think you have to bury these two games, move ahead and just find a way to have some success.”
It hasn’t been easy against Pittsburgh.
Rinne is now 1-7-2 lifetime against Pittsburgh – his lone win came in relief at Nashville – and he entered the series with a .880 save percentage and a 3.57 goals-against average. Those numbers ballooned after the first two games against the Penguins.
Rinne is now winless in five career starts at Pittsburgh and looking to change his luck in Nashville where the Predators are 7-1 in the playoffs.
”Pekka’s been excellent for us all year long,” Laviolette said. ”There’s things we could’ve done. all three goals in the third period were odd-man rushes.”
Rinne stopped 18 of the first 19 shots faced through the first two periods, but he allowed a shaky goal in the first period to Jake Guentzel, the Game 1 hero for Pittsburgh, who squeezed a rebound between Rinne’s arm and body while he hugged the post.
Guentzel struck again 10 seconds into the third period to put Pittsburgh in front for good.
Rinne kicked a Bryan Rust rebound to the slot where Guentzel scored his 12th of the playoffs and second of the game. Pittsburgh scored soon after to make it 3-1, a goal that was credited to Scott Wilson, who got a piece of the puck before it went off the skate of Nashville forward Vernon Fiddler and between Rinne’s pads.
Evgeni Malkin extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-1 just 15 seconds later, beating Rinne with a wrist shot during a two-on-one.
That was enough to end Rinne’s night, but the Predators aren’t blaming their goaltender for the series deficit.
”He’s the reason why we’re here,” Fisher said. ”It’s not his fault by any means. We need to be better in front of him.”