The Nashville Predators walked into Game Five at PPG Paints Arena looking to ride the wave of back to back wins that evened the series. Dominant performances in the Music City had them feeling confident that they were about to put the defending Stanley Cup Champs on the brink of elimination.
Instead, like the catfish thrown onto the ice before the game, the Predators were dead the moment they hit the ice and they proceeded to stink up the joint. Pittsburgh, much like Game Five in the Ottawa series, rolled to a dominant shut out….this time the score was 6-0
Sidney Crosby set the tone on the opening shift and didn’t look back. Drawing a penalty on a drive to the net and then assisting on Justin Schultz’s power play goal just 1:34 into the game. Crosby would go on to his best performance ever in the Stanley Cup Finals. Three assists on the score sheet countless breathtaking plays and a physical chippy side that is always there. His efforts now have the Pens in prime position to secure their fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history. Crosby also has moved past some guy named Lemieux for the highest scoring Penguin player in Finals history.
Let it be noted, however, Mario did his work in 9 games (missed one against Minnesota due to back spasms) compared to Crosby’s 24.
After continuing to push the pace, five minutes later Pittsburgh would connect again as Trevor Daley put a beautiful area pass on to the stick of Chris Kunitz. Kunitz would gain the line and find Bryan Rust alone in the slot. Rust would deliver a backhand against the grain and over Pekka Rinne’s glove for a 2-0 lead at 6:43. The last time we saw a backhand that dirty was twenty-some years ago, and it got Pee Wee Herman arrested in a movie theater.
The fun would continue from there. Wave after wave of attack and puck possession by the Pens. The building was rocking and you could sense this night was going to be special.
Towards the end of the period, PK Subban and Sidney Crosby would engage each other behind the Penguin net. they would take turns giving each other contact to the head area….you know, the area the NHL wants you to believe it is serious about protecting. Crosby for his part would bounce Subban’s head like one of those .25 cent bouncy balls you’d get at your local skating rink. Subban would in turn put Crosby in a front face headlock for about twenty seconds. I fully expected him to try a DDT before the refs stepped in.
The important part in this was, both players went to the sin bin and a four on four situation came into play. With ten seconds to go in the first, Phil Kessel would control the puck on the far boards and make a quick, nifty pass where Evgeni Malkin would hammer it past Rinne for a back-breaking third goal at period’s end.
Jesus Take The Net — @carrieunderwood
— S_Meter (@SuckMeter) June 9, 2017
Fortunately, Jesus really doesn’t mind WHO wins a hockey game, so the onslaught would continue in the second.
But not with Rinne in goal, for the second time in the series Juuse Saros would come in to relieve Rinne. 3 goals on 9 shots against the one-time Conn Smythe leader, and two of those badly over the glove hand for all you Matt Murray detractors.
Pekka Rinne still be like pic.twitter.com/BcQR0bxvQI
— upgrūv (@upgruv) June 9, 2017
The ‘Sid and the Kids’ line would strike, again, early in the period. Crosby, Guentzel, and Sheary would cycle the puck low in the Preds zone. Sheary would miss on the original setup before Crosby collected the puck at the side of the net and again threw it out front to the far post where Sheary would have an easy finish.
The onslaught would continue. After Sidney Crosby protested a non slashing call from the bench and allowed a water bottle to slip out of his hands and on to the ice, the Penguins would strike again.
Crosby would get the puck up to Olli Maatta and a three on two would develop for the Penguins at the offensive blue line. Maatta would get the puck to Phil Kessel who cut from the point to the high slot, mid-ice. Kessel would rip a nasty wrister under Saros’ arm and into the twine. All things being equal, the Penguins should have been killing a penalty here for the water bottle throw. Intentional or not, it’s unsportsman like conduct. Instead it’s now 5-0 Pittsburgh, 8:40 into the second.
It really would not have made a difference at the end of the day.
Sidney Crosby – Game 5:
– 3 assists
– Threw water bottle
– Used Subban's head as bouncy ball#Legend
— Ryan Tuttle (@ryan_tuttle22) June 9, 2017
and while we’re at it…..
So unless Tony Watson comes in for Matt Murray, I'd say this 5-goal lead is pretty safe
— Jaime Baker (@JBaker_WTAJ) June 9, 2017
The next Penguins goal at 16:40, summed up the entire night…..
it started like this;
— Penguins Nation (@EngellandsEye) June 9, 2017
and ended like this;
That’s not Paul Coffey, boys and girls…that’s Ron Hainsey starting the play and finishing the play. The keystone cops part of it with the two Preds players colliding is just icing on the cake. So the second intermission comes along and the game is very much secure.
Nashville fans quickly turned on CMT to catch old re-runs of He-Haw and the Dukes of Hazzard.
The only questions left for the night would be, could Matt Murray get a shutout, and how long before the Preds would start trying to take a pound of flesh before Game Six.
Nashville did start to try to send messages with the game winding down. A line-brawl of sorts would take place that saw Evgeni Malkin involved in yet another fight in the Stanley Cup Finals. This one on this night, however, would notch him a Gordie Howe hat-trick.
Olli Maatta would also take a cross check to the face late in the game. He quickly left down the runway to the Pens locker room with what sure seemed to be a broken nose. NBC announcers were quick to dismiss the obvious shot to the face with a stick, putting blame on Maatta for leaning in.
The same announcers still AFTER the game were more concerned about a water bottle being thrown on the ice. Good job American hockey broadcast company. You wonder why it’s tough top grow the game in the States at times….there is one of the answers.
The clock would eventually expire and the horn and smoke and loud noises would all transpire and here is where we stand.
Side note: ENOUGH with the catfish throwing, Nashville faithful. You are doing NOTHING but semi-copying the Detroit Red Wings and their throwing of the Octopus. It’s not original, or funny. Detroit, at least has won something in their history and is a respected club. After this series is over, you guys will forget what hockey is again until October. You wanna do something original….bring this guy in to fire up the crowd before the game….
Let him hit someone in an opposing jersey over the head with a guitar…..hell, I’d laugh at that. Regardless….just be original good citizens of Nashville.
The Pens are looking again to win the Cup on the road. Bloomington, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, San Jose….is Nashville next on that list? Sunday will give us that answer.
The Pens looked absolutely refreshed, the extra day off was a huge help. Another extra day off between games five and six will only do even more for the club. Perhaps even getting Nick Bonino back in to the line up. Before anyone rolls their eyes at the schedule, it is actually made up as the Conference Finals are being played, and this year they took into account the potentially long travels that would have taken place had Anaheim made it and not Nashville. Hence the explanation for the numerous days off.
We haven’t talked much about Matt Murray….and the was no reason to. A keeper from the CHL could have played in net for Pittsburgh on this night. That’s not a knock on what Murray did, but simply showing that, unlike Games 3 and 4, when this team plays the way it should, it renders the Murray/Fleury debate to a moo point.
The stars stepped up when they needed to. Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel specifically, all with goals and multiple points on the night, Gordie Howe hat-tricks, thrown water bottles, Subban bashing….all of it. The Penguins talent came to play and the result was overwhelming.
The Pittsburgh defense had five points themselves….including goals from Schultz (the first PPG since Game 1 too) and Hainsey (who now has more career Stanley Cup Finals goals than Alexander Ovechkin….let that sink in). For a blue-line that was questioned severely in the last week….and rightfully so, it was a complete effort from the group.
So the Stanley Cup will be in the building on Sunday. Nashville will be out for a much better effort after being embarrassed, but here’s the rub; Pittsburgh will have their first shot to secure the goal of back-to-back Cups. No WAY will the Pens bring anything less than their ‘A’ game on Sunday. One more chance to catch a Predator….
Play a sixty minutes like tonight and it will be time for another party on road ice.
I will have you covered for Game Six on Sunday…. I MAY even make it back to some live tweeting if the schedule permits.
Enough is enough….let’s finish it.