Lavoie: Penguins have the number of 'awful' Pekka Rinne

Lavoie: Penguins have the number of 'awful' Pekka Rinne

Again, it's no mystery, that Pekka Rinne has been nowhere near where he needs to be in order for the Preds to overcome a 2-0 deficit to beat the defending Cup champion, Pittsburg Penguins.

Nashville's Matt Irwin drilled Pittsburgh's Matt Cullen from behind into the boards in the first period, a hit that left the 40-year-old Cullen headed down the runway for a quick check but didn't result in a penalty. The Preds were well positioned going into the third period, tied at one on the road?

Just 15 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin scored off of a two-on-one, firing a flawless shot over Rinne's glove for a 4-1 lead. I gutted it to an extent, cut some of the spine out of it because the one I got was entirely too big to try to hide.

"Yeah, I think. when teams start peppering us, we do a really good job of keeping the shots to the outside, and we limit the quality scoring chances", said winger Bryan Rust. With No. 1 defenceman Kris Letang gone midway through the season, they finished 14th in shots for and against at five-on-five; going into Game 2 Wednesday night, Pittsburgh had the second-lowest percentage of five-on-five shot attempts of any team in the playoffs at 46.9 per cent, which in the regular season would make them the 29th-ranked team in hockey, and then it got worse.

During the game, which the Penguins won 5-3, Waddell pulled the fish from his trousers in the toilet but kept it concealed until the second period. "You can't even put into words what it feels".

Game 2 is bound to dampen some of that optimism, even with Nashville getting the next two games at home. After a period of quiet time for him in the long grind of the playoff he's looking as great as ever. Pittsburgh scored soon after to make it 3-1, a goal that was credited to Scott Wilson, who got a piece of the puck before it went off the skate of Nashville forward Vernon Fiddler and between Rinne's pads. The Penguins took all the steam out of the Predators early in the fatal third period, but the physical disputes continued to the final horn.

We said this a year ago when a goalie with just 13 games under his belt in the regular season came out of no where and outperformed Braden Holtby and Martin Jones.

"It's obviously very disappointing right now, but it's a series and we're down 2-0 going home", Rinne said. We want more. It's our game. He stopped 85-of-89 Rangers shots in three first-round wins and then helped the Pens tip-toe past the Capitals and Lightning before a mostly sharp performance in the final against the Sharks (.920 save percentage). Against the Penguins, however, Rinne has allowed eight goals on 36 shots and has not made stops at key times in the two games at PPG Paints Arena.

"I know what we have in this room, what we're going to see and bring tonight". The Penguins thrive off of high-intensity, chaotic situations that turn broken plays into instant odd-man rushes.

Pekka Rinne closed his eyes and went back to a happy place.

Fifteen seconds later, Malkin put the game out of reach when he snapped a wrist shot past Rinne after charging down the left wing. "I treat this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity".

What... you are surprised I didn't say goaltender Pekka Rinne?

The one spot Nashville entered this series with a theoretical advantage over Pittsburgh is between the pipes. Pontus Aberg opened the scoring midway through the first, but Rinne gave it back moments later on a rebound that should have been sealed off.

It was 5-1 at that time, but game officials wiped out the fifth goal on an off- sides call against the Penguins. There was no penalty.

At the end of the first period, Murray held firm against an onslaught of shots from the Predators. Pittsburgh RW Patric Hornqvist redirected the puck past G Juuse Saros at 6:48 of the third on a power play, but the goal was waved off after a review determined the Penguins were offside. Likewise, winger Carl Hagelin is expected to be a healthy scratch again for Pittsburgh.

The Predators, who hadn't lost two straight playoff games this spring until the Final, hope to feed off the enthusiasm of their fans in Game 3.

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