Pittsburgh Penguins on brink of repeat after 6-0 win over Nashville Predators in Game 5

By Shelly Anderson, The Sports Xchange
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates with Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) as he returns to the bench following a goal. File photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates with Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) as he returns to the bench following a goal. File photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins scored early, often and seemingly at will Thursday night in a 6-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins, with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, are a win away from raising the Cup for the second year in a row and the fifth time in team history.


Game 6 is Sunday night in Nashville. The home team has won each game in the series.

Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray not only avoided losing three straight games for the first time in his career, but he also stopped 24 shots for his second shutout of these playoffs, the third in the postseason of his career.

The Penguins -- who set a club record with their 10th home win of the playoffs -- scored three times in the first period and another three in the second.


They got goals from Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Ron Hainsey. Kessel added two assists, Malkin and Hainsey one each. Sidney Crosby, who was particularly strong early in the game, had three assists.

For the second time in the series, Pittsburgh chased Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, after he gave up three first-period goals on nine shots. Rinne has allowed 11 goals on 45 shots this series in games at PPG Paints Arena and is 0-3 in those contests.

The opening faceoff was delayed a few seconds after someone threw a catfish onto the ice -- a Predators thing. If that was meant to bait the Penguins, it backfired.

On the game's first shift, Crosby wove down the slot, putting a shot off the left post and drawing a holding penalty on Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis.

On the ensuing power play, Crosby set up Schultz for a slap shot that went under Rinne's pads for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead 1:31 into the first.


The Penguins' power play had been 1-for-16 in the series and 0-for-13 over the previous three games.

Pittsburgh kept up the pressure and Chris Kunitz set up Rust for a backhander that sailed past Rinne's glove to make it 2-0 at 6:43.

Crosby and Nashville's P.K. Subban got in a tangle on the ice behind the Penguins net late in the first, with Crosby bouncing Subban's helmeted head off the ice. Both got holding penalties.

On the ensuing four-on-four play, Malkin took a feed from Kessel and, from above the left dot, put a shot in over Rinne's glove to make it 3-0 with 10.2 seconds left in the first.

It was Malkin's 10th goal of the playoffs and his postseason-leading 27th point.

Juuse Saros replaced Rinne for the start of the second and promptly got scored upon. Crosby set up Sheary -- playing on his 25th birthday -- in the low slot for a 4-0 Pittsburgh lead at 1:19 on the first shot by either team in the period.

Kessel broke a six-game goal drought -- and made Malkin's prediction Wednesday come true -- when he scored from the high slot to make it 5-0 at 8:02 of the second.


Hainsey turned Nashville's James Neal inside out in Pittsburgh's end after the former Penguin whiffed on a big-hit attempt, then headed up ice and eventually finished off a feed from Malkin for a 6-0 lead at 16:40 of the second.

Saros stopped 12 of the 15 shots he faced.

NOTES: Nashville D Ryan Ellis left in the second period with an undisclosed injury and did not return. ... Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby reached 20 career points in Stanley Cup Final games, moving one ahead of Mario Lemieux for the club record. ... Pittsburgh LW Jake Guentzel's second-period assist gave him 21 points, setting an NHL record for rookies. ... Pittsburgh C Nick Bonino missed his third straight game. He took a P.K. Subban shot off his left foot/ankle in Game 2. ... Penguins RW Josh Archibald, who made his Final debut in Game 4, was scratched in favor of LW Scott Wilson. ... Nashville LW Colin Wilson returned from an undisclosed injury and made his Final debut. He replaced RW P.A. Parenteau in the lineup.

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