By: Jeremy Perrigo
Pittsburgh came out strong in Game 2 Wednesday night, looking to dominate the early play, something they failed to do in Game 1. The gameplay slowly evened out as the Penguins began to start trading chances with Nashville towards the midway point of the first period.
Eventually it would be the Predators who would strike first 12:57 into the period. The goal came off a strong individual effort from winger Pontus Aberg who sprinted down the left wall, maneuvering around Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in front of the net to beat a sprawling Matt Murray top shelf.
Only seconds after a Roman Josi cross-checking penalty expired Pittsburgh would even the game 1-1. The Penguins tied it up when their postseason leading goal-scorer Jake Guentzel tallied his 11th of the playoffs 16:36 in, sneaking a puck under the left arm of goaltender Pekka Rinne when it looked as though Rinne had the net sealed off.
In the dying seconds of the first period Nashville had a couple close chances around the Pittsburgh net, all denied by Matt Murray. Shot totals after the first 20 minutes were 18-12 in favor of the Predators with the score tied at 1-1.
The second period was back and forth, fast-paced, hockey from start to finish. No goals were scored even though Nashville and Pittsburgh took turns trading chances.
Despite two power plays in favor of the Penguins in the second half of the period, no pucks made it past Pekka Rinne. This kept Pittsburgh scoreless on five power plays through the first two thirds of the game.
The Penguins went almost ten straight minutes without a shot on net while on the other end of the ice Matt Murray faced a consistent stream of Nashville shots.
The Predators outshot the Penguins 14-7 in the second frame while the score remained 1-1.
Jake Guentzel would continue to produce for Pittsburgh only ten seconds into the 3rd period. Opening draw, Penguin winger Bryan Rust skated down the right wall and fired a shot off Pekka Rinne’s far pad that rebounded perfectly to Guentzel in front who shot the puck into a nearly empty net.
Shortly after Pittsburgh added another from a Phil Kessel pass in front that brushed off the stick of Penguin Scott Wilson before redirecting off Nashville forward Vernon Fiddler and behind Pekka Rinne to make it 3-1 just 3:13 into the period.
A quick 15 seconds after the Scott Wilson deflection goal, the Penguins added another, this time an Evgeni Malkin snipe from the top of the left circle. That would end Pekka Rinne’s night as the Predators gave up three goals less than four minutes into the 3rd period sending backup goaltender Juuse Saros between the pipes.
Pontus Aberg took a penalty shortly after the Malkin goal that resulted in another puck in the back of the Nashville net, this time courtesy of Patric Hornqvist off a pass from Matt Cullen. However, this goal would be reversed for offsides and the score remained 4-1.
The score held for the rest of the period as Nashville pushed back but was unable to put another puck past Matt Murray.
Nashville outshot Pittsburgh 38-27 and out-hit them 41-35 while winning 57.1% of faceoffs.
Pittsburgh had 20 blocked shots to Nashville’s 8.
No powerplay goals were scored as Nashville went 0/4 and Pittsburgh 0/7.
The Penguins take a 2-0 series into Nashville Saturday night for Game 3 at 8pm EST.