Later, he opened the floodgates to start the third period just 10 seconds in when he pounced on a fat rebound in the slot and drilled it into an empty net, kicking off a wild four-minute stretch where the Penguins scored three goals to put the game away and send them to Nashville with a 2-0 series lead. Cody McLeod carelessly got his stick up in the second period, then took another minor at the end of the game.
His five game-winning goals are more than all of the Penguins' rookies since the start of the 2000 playoffs have produced - combined. The Penguins entered the series leading all playoff teams with 3.05 goals per game, and they also led the National Hockey League during the with 3.39 goals per game during the regular season.
The goals did come off the rush as Laviolette noted, but some of the leaks come down to Rinne, who couldn't keep Guentzel's game-tying goal from finding a hole and then offered up a juicy rebound to Bryan Rust which spurred the go-ahead marker.
It was easy for Guentzel to be overlooked during the regular season on a team full of superstars, elite scorers, and Stanley Cup champions.
Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams leading 2-0 have won 45 of 50 series. But the Penguins, who had needed just 12 shots to score five goals in Game 1, continued to be opportunistic. Besides his abilities on the ice, he has shown a professionalism off the ice that not many 22-year-olds in the National Hockey League have. The Omaha-born forward's 12 goals in the playoffs lead the Penguins and is a new postseason record for an American rookie. He had gone to a place where he had made the big saves, where he had picked up the big win, where he was once again the best goalie in the playoffs.
Even if you subtract the own goals, the Preds' star stopper is really fighting the puck. "We know the ultimate goal is two more wins".
Proving that the quality of their shots on goal matters more than the quantity, the Pittsburgh Penguins were outshot by the Nashville Predators for the second straight game to start the Stanley Cup Final. Game 3 is Saturday night in Nashville in what amounts to a last stand for the Predators and their suddenly very average-looking goalie.
"Our focus is Game 3 and going home to a crowd that's going to be electric", Predators' captain Mike Fisher said. That was the case again on Wednesday, with Nashville having a 38-27 edge in shots but only one goal to show for it. Two more goals followed in short order, three in all in the opening 3:28 of the period, forcing the Predators to pull goaltender Pekka Rinne and regroup heading back to Nashville. The Penguins, despite several shot droughts in the first two games, have simply found ways to score - and to win.
Penguins center Matt Cullen briefly left the game earlier after getting hit in the corner but returned and didn't miss a shift. "We're not where we want to be". For one, they actually put pucks on the net.
It doesn't matter how well the offense plays, how many shots they put on the Penguins' goal, or how the six defenders play; the success of this team hinges exclusively on the play of the goalie. Prior to their Game 2 victory Wednesday night, they were minus-240 favorites to hoist the cup, according to OddsShark. In Game 1, Rinne faced eleven shots and let in four goals. "We didn't think that we had reached our best play yet and we were in a good spot at 1-1". He hasn't disappointed, and after his one loss these playoffs in Game 6 to Ottawa, the Penguins didn't panic and go back to Fleury, they stuck with it.
"Pekka's been terrific through this entire playoffs", Laviolette said. The Predators desperately need more of Subban's swagger. P.K. Subban was jawing at anyone who had ears, but they brushed it off, especially Sidney Crosby.