Photo courtesy: Stephen Yeargin
After a shocking blowout win by the Penguins in Game 2, the Predators return home to Nashville to take on the surging Pittsburgh team. The Preds started last game strong, overpowering the shaky defense of Pittsburgh, but never seemed to close out on all the good opportunities due to the stellar play of goalie Matt Murray. While the Preds kept it even at 1-1 going into the third period, Pittsburgh made aggressive changes in the locker room, and bullied the Nashville defense with three quick and decisive goals to start the first three minutes of the period. While Murray was shining at the net for Pittsburgh, Pekka Rinne struggled and Peter Laviolette pulled him from the game with considerable time left in the third.
Keys for Game 3
It's easy for the Preds. Goalie Pekka Rinne needs to find himself, otherwise, this team has no shot against a deep offensive team in the Penguins. With the depth of the Pittsburgh wings as shown in Game 2, Rinne will need to make some clutch stops. Nasvhille rides on the play of the goalie more than any team this postseason. Rinne should benefit being at home, where the crowd adores him.
The Penguins found their man in Jake Guentzel. Guentzel bullied the Nashville defense—his cuts were decisive and shots were powerful. Remember, Guentzel is just a rookie, so the Penguins found their new big-time weapon just in time. Guentzel will need to keep his aggressive play up for the Penguins, whose power plays looked much stronger in Game 2. The Penguins will need Guentzel’s energy that he brought at home as the team heads to Nasvhille.
Subban-led defense needs to step up
P.K. Subban showed poise in the locker room after a stinging Game 2 loss. While he showed faith in this team and promised a Game 3 win, Subban needs to understand that their defensive play has to improve for them to pull off a series comeback. The Predators built up the team’s speed with their recent acquisitions of the last two years. Subban was brought in favor of a stronger Shea Weber for his speed. Right now, Predators are showing a lack of focus and cohesiveness, which is leading to the Penguins’ quick scoring bursts. 55 minutes, the Predators play lights out, but five minutes of underwhelming play needs to be stopped—the front line needs to be that stopper.
The Murray Momentum
Matt Murray was stellar in Game 2. After a rough Game 1, Murray returned with a dazzling performance, making it difficult for Nasvhille. The Preds one goal came from an impressive move by Aberg, but Murray had some excellent stops against Fisher and Arvidsson. If Murray can keep up his play, the Predators won't have an answer.
Game 3 Prediction: Predators 3, Penguins 1