Crosby dominant in Penguins' Game 5 win over Predators

Anyone casually tuning into the Stanley Cup Final in recent days might have been caught a bit off guard by a unusual tradition held by fans of the Nashville Predators - throwing catfish on the ice.

Pekka Rinne's first year of full-time service for the Nashville Predators was 2008. The Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to play Game 4 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday.

As in Game 1, the Predators returned to the locker room Thursday at first intermission in a 3-0 hole, but it wasn't the product of Penguins puck luck. Time to score. We play at home. Our guys have a tremendous amount of confidence in him.

"It's something we take a lot of pride in being good at home", center Matt Cullen said. "We're going home and we're going to be re-energized".

But the Predators had little to enjoy from this one.

They got goals from Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Ron Hainsey. Crosby, who has 57 playoff goals, entered Game Five three points shy of tying Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin for 19th place.

"As long as there's life, there's hope", Rinne said. "It's a big game". He put up one of the worst seasons of his career with 18 wins, one shutout and a.909 save percentage in 38 games played. The crowd stuck with Rinne too, chanting his name in warmups in a goosebump-raising show of support.

Juuse Saros took over in net for the Predators for the final 40 minutes of the game. Pittsburgh Penguins' Olli Maatta grabs his nose after being hit there by a Nashville Predators' stick during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

"You move forward here, you learn from it and we'll be a lot better in our home rink", said Predators forward James Neal. "Our focus is really more concerned about just that one game in front of us".

Only 91 seconds had elapsed in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final and already Sidney Crosby had accomplished so much.

Rust's goal 6:43 into the opening period, on a great backhander into the top corner, came off a feed from Kunitz and gave Pittsburgh an early two-goal cushion.

"That was a huge game", Rinne said.

"I just think what separates him is his drive", said Sullivan.

The absence of Ryan Ellis has added injury to an insulting night for the Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins.

Kessel's 5-0 tally came seven minutes later, on a shot from the middle of the slot that caught Saros low glove side. He lasted just two shifts into the second period before he went to the bench in pain.

Malkin ripped a wrist shot over Rinne's glove on the ensuing 4-on-4 to make it 3-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first.

It looks like neither road team can win a game in this series, as every contest seems to be a home blowout.

The Penguins are a win away from their second straight Stanley Cup and fifth overall. These are our key players, and they need to be more consistent than they've been in games three and four.

Pittsburgh Penguins fans Arianna Burns, left, Kaeli Stolar right, and Alex Hersh, rear, cheer for the team outside PPG Paints Arena before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the Penguins and the Nashville Predators, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

For the second time in the series, Pittsburgh chased Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, after he gave up three first-period goals on nine shots.

"I know it's a nasty hole to be in", Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday. Perhaps that's because Crosby realizes how hard it is to even reach the final in consecutive seasons - not done previously since the Penguins and Red Wings in 2008 and 2009 - let alone win it twice in a row.

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