Sports

Preds even Stanley Cup Final at 2-2, beat Penguins 4-1

Preds even Stanley Cup Final at 2-2, beat Penguins 4-1

Rookie Frederick Gaudreau has no problem performing on hockey's biggest stage.

The Pittsburgh Penguins needed more from their stars. Nashville rolled to a 5-1 win in Game 3 in which the Preds outplayed the Penguins in every area, but Rinne made a series of brilliant saves in the 4-1 Game 4 victory Monday night.

The pressure should be on the Penguins because they don't want to head to Nashville to face elimination, but the real pressure is on both teams.

Game Five is in Pittsburgh on Thursday. "He definitely belongs, and he's been a huge part of our success". "Having said that, I thought of all of the games we played, we generated the most chances and the highest quality and it didn't go in the net for us. We had a number of grade-A opportunities, a couple of breakaways, flurries around the net, so there were a lot of things from a process standpoint that we really liked". This move was done not as an indictment on Rinne, but to try to jumpstart the Predators.

Backed by their raucous home fans, the Predators are 8-1 in the postseason at Bridgestone Arena. Whether Laviolette will start goalie Pekka Rinne isn't a question despite the 34-year-old Finn giving up three goals on nine shots before being pulled after the first period. Schultz can go cold-blooded at anytime and blast a goal, but his defensive play is more important right now. It's an emotional ride. "I think if I just make a save on that breakaway [on the third goal by Viktor Arvidsson] it's a different game".

Nashville successfully deployed P.K. Subban and Ekholm primarily against Malkin and the duo of Josi and Ryan Ellis against Crosby.

Gaudreau scored what proved to be the game victor early in the second period but his wraparound goal was only awarded after a random horn sounded 35 seconds later to stop play and initiate a video review.

One area where the Penguins have to be better is in turning the puck around, which is far easier said than done. For now anyway. If the first four games of an unpredictable series have dictated anything, it's that momentum is just one shot away.

Stanley is more than just a cartoon dog. "It's probably human nature to say, 'Oh, you let in five goals, I didn't play so well.' But I honestly felt really sharp ..."

Bryan Rust then doubled the Penguins' lead 6:43 into the first period, with a wicked backhander that fooled Rinne.

Forsberg sealed the win with an empty-netter with 3:23 left. The Predators are 0-4 in the last 4 meetings in Pittsburgh and the home team is 7-0 in the last 7 meetings while the over is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.

As has been well-documented by this point, the crowds in Nashville have been electric and the city in general has embraced the team and the sport.

Whether it was Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Phil Kessel, the Penguins' best players were their best players. He deked Rinne, then slid a backhand shot that tapped the post before settling behind the goalie at 15:57.

If the Penguins are going to rebound and win the series, they are certainly going to need better goaltending, but that alone isn't the difference. James Neal started the play, getting the puck to captain Mike Fisher who fed the puck up to Arvidsson while falling to the ice. And the game was on Washington's home ice. The Penguins made one change to their lineup, as RW Josh Archibald replaced C Scott Wilson.

The health status of Nick Bonino, who missed Game 4 with a foot injury, is improving. The Predators have dominated play, even in the two losses in which the Penguins hit them with two three-goal blitzes covering about six minutes.


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