Nashville Predators erupt in Game 3, claw back in Stanley Cup final with win over Penguins

By Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange  |  June 3, 2017 at 11:42 PM
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban guaranteed a win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night after the Pittsburgh Penguins established a 2-0 lead in the series.

Subban doubled down on his prediction Thursday back in Nashville.

He and the Predators backed up his words Saturday night, marrying a clear advantage in shots with actual production during the final two periods of a 5-1 win at Bridgestone Arena. The victory was the franchise's first in the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 4 is Monday night in Nashville, with the Predators aiming for a series tie in front of a standing-room only audience.

Saturday's crowd fired five catfish on the ice before and during Game 3.

The Predators controlled the last two periods, including a third that was 180 degrees removed from Wednesday night. Pittsburgh pumped home three goals in the first 3 1/2 minutes of that contest to post a 4-1 win.

This time, Craig Smith gave Nashville a 4-1 lead with a breakaway goal off a turnover at 4:54. Mattias Ekholm found the net on the power play at 13:10, making them the 18th and 19th Nashville players to score goals in the postseason.

While the Predators scored goals, Pekka Rinne prevented them. He gave up a goal on the second shot he faced, then stopped the last 26 for his fourth Game 3 win of the postseason.

Matt Murray finished with 28 saves on 33 shots for the Penguins after being their best player for long stretches in Games 1 and 2.

It took Pittsburgh only 2:46 to temporarily quiet the loud crowd.

Jake Guentzel tucked a rebound under Pekka Rinne for his 13th playoff goal and fourth of the series. He became the first player since Detroit's Steve Yzerman in 1997 to score in the first three games of the Final.

Nashville formulated a response in the second period. With Justin Schultz off for holding Harry Zolnierczyk at 4:13, the Predators got their initial power play. Roman Josi capped it with a one-timer from the right circle at 5:51, his sixth postseason marker.

The Predators took their first lead of the night 42 seconds later. Frederick Gaudreau skated into the high slot with no opposition and pumped a wrister by Murray for his second playoff goal. Gaudreau didn't score a goal in nine regular season matches.

Former Penguin James Neal hurt his old employer at 19:37 with his sixth goal of the playoffs. He took Viktor Arvidsson's feed from behind the net and banked it off Murray for a two-goal margin at the second intermission.

NOTES: Pittsburgh C Nick Bonino, who was struck by a P.K. Subban slapper in the ankle in Game 2, was scratched. Carl Hagelin drew into the lineup in his place. ... Bridgestone Arena became the 40th different venue to host a Stanley Cup Finals game Saturday night. ... Other notable Penguins scratched were LW Tom Sestito, D Mark Streit and D Chad Ruhwedel. ... Nashville scratches included LW Colin Wilson, RW Miikka Salomaki and LW Cody McLeod. RW PA Parenteau replaced McLeod, playing just his fourth game of this postseason.

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