Preds fall behind early, will face elimination in Game 6


Fans horde the outside of Bridgestone Arena for the Stanley Cup Finals. (Tayhlor Stephenson / Sidelines)

Photo by Tayhlor Stephenson / Assistant Lifestyles Editor

After maintaining their postseason dominance on home ice in Games 3 and 4, the Nashville Predators returned to Pittsburgh with hopes to take a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins. Those hopes were dashed rather early, as three first-period goals set the tone for a dominant 6-0 Game 5 win for Pittsburgh.

The trouble started early for Nashville, as Ryan Ellis was called for holding and given two minutes in the penalty box. Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz took advantage and scored a mere 91 seconds into the first period to put Pittsburgh up 1-0. Schultz was assisted on the play by Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist.

About four minutes later, Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust added to the lead with a goal that was assisted by Chris Kunitz and Trevor Daley. The nail in Pekka Rinne’s coffin happened with just ten seconds remaining in the period, as Evgeni Malkin nailed a wrist-shot to put the Penguins up 3-0 heading into the first intermission. Malkin was assisted by Ron Hainsey and Phil Kessel.

Looking for a spark, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette substituted Juuse Saros in for Rinne. The move wouldn’t pan out however, as Conor Sheary scored Pittsburgh’s fourth goal of the night. Crosby and rookie Jake Guentzel were credited with the assists.

The barrage continued as Kessel finally broke his scoring drought in the Final with a goal at the 8:02 mark of the period, assisted by Olli Maata and Crosby once again. The Penguins final score of the night came from Hainsey at the 16:40 point of the second stanza. Hainsey was assisted by Malkin and Kessel.

After falling behind by so much, the Preds did everything they could to get some positive energy going their way. This resulted in zero goals however, and Nashville finds themselves down 3-2 in the series after the disappointing 6-0 defeat.

What’s next?

The teams will return to Nashville for one of the biggest games of the season, as the Predators have to stave off elimination for the first time in the 2017 postseason. The Penguins are trying to win the Stanley Cup for the second straight season, while a Nashville victory means a decisive Game 7 in Pittsburgh.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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