Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Penguins Ron Hainsey pokes the puck past Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros for a goal during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Thursday

Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

The question for the Penguins, who are one win away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions, is whether they can get that same team-wide effort on the road in Game 6 on Sunday, where they had so much trouble. Pittsburgh has outscored the Predators 15-4 on home ice, while the Predators have outscored the Penguins 9-2 in Nashville. Pittsburgh Penguins' Olli Maatta grabs his nose after being hit there by a Nashville Predators' stick during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Nashville rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the best-of-seven series and the home team has won all five games. They'd go on to hammer the Predators, 6-0.

Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel - just as linemate Malkin predicted - and 35-year-old playoff newbie Ron Hainsey also scored for Pittsburgh.

First-period barrage: The Penguins jumped on the Predators from the start with forecheck pressure and two quick goals (Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust).

Goalie change: Rinne, who endured a rough start to the series but found his rhythm the prior two games, was pulled for Juuse Saros to start the second period.

Pittsburgh is threatening to turn Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final into a rout. Even Ron Hainsey scored.

The six goals allowed were a postseason-high for Nashville, which had allowed five goals only twice, with one an empty-netter by Anaheim. "Nothing's done yet and we've got a lot of work ahead of ourselves". The Penguins kept attacking, with Kessel whipping a shot past Saros for his eighth goal of the playoffs that Crosby assisted on. Filip Forsberg leads Nashville with nine goals, Viktor Arvidsson has 10 assists and Roman Josi has 72 shots on goal. Crosby set up the first goal by Pittsburgh 91 seconds into the game Thursday night.

On the game's first shift, Crosby wove down the slot, putting a shot off the left post and drawing a holding penalty on Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis. Can either of these teams win on the road or will home ice carry the day?

With 164 career playoff points, Crosby is now tied with Denis Potvin for 19th all-time.

Malkin ripped a wrist shot over Rinne's glove on the ensuing 4-on-4 to make it 3-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first.

It was a risky play from a player who should probably know better based on his own concussion history, however, it illustrated the kind of attitude Crosby had brought to what was a pivotal Game 5.

Rust's goal 6:43 into the opening period, on a great backhander into the top corner, came off a feed from Kunitz and gave Pittsburgh an early two-goal cushion.

The Penguins' best players were their best players.

Everything that followed from that moment on was just window-dressing, preparation for Sunday's sixth game, when the Stanley Cup will be in the Bridgestone Arena, there for the taking if Pittsburgh can find a way to earn a road victory.

Power plays (goals-chances) - Nashville: 0-5; Pittsburgh: 1-4. Home-ice advantage or not, there's no saving the Predators' Stanley Cup hopes if their choice blows up in their face. Heck, their worst players were better than the Predators' so-called best.

Rinne returns to Pittsburgh, where he was shelled in the first two games of the series and is 0-5 with a 4.85 goals-against average and.833 save percentage over his National Hockey League career.

"Obviously not the start you want to have".

Rinne is now 1-8-2 lifetime against the Penguins - his lone win came in relief at Nashville - and he owns a career 5.15 goals-against average and.822 save percentage in Pittsburgh.

The two got into a wrestling match toward the end of the first period. "I think they understand how these series go and how, from one game to the next, we have to reset the mindset and just be ready to play that game right in front of us".

"I thought the team played a pretty solid game overall".

Teammates have noticed that the Cole Harbour, N.S., native is even more driven than usual this year. Wilson missed the first four games of the series with an unspecified lower-body injury.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that Matt Murray would remain in goal and said that center Nick Bonino was a game-time decision.

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