By: Jeremy Perrigo
Storyline: Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban promises Game 3 win.
Jake Guentzel scored his league-leading 13th goal of the postseason only 2:46 into the opening frame to give the Penguins the early 1-0 lead.
Nashville had two penalties in the first, which continued the trend from Game 2 where they allowed Pittsburgh seven power plays. Fortunately for the Predators they were able to kill off the P.K. Subban holding penalty along with a too-many-men penalty served by James Neal.
Both teams traded chances however the Guentzel opening goal was the only score after one period of play.
Nashville outshot Pittsburgh 12-6 in the opening 20 minutes.
The second period began with both teams trading chances but failing to score either way. That was until a holding penalty from Pittsburgh defenseman Justin Schultz sent Nashville to the powerplay.
In the dying seconds of the odd-man advantage Predators defenseman Roman Josi fired a shot from the right point that deflected off a Penguin player in front of goaltender Matt Murray and into the net to tie the game 1-1.
Only 42 seconds later the Predators scored off a strong individual effort from Frederick Gaudreau. Gaudreau cut from the left wall to the center of the Pittsburgh zone before using Penguins defenseman Ian Cole as a screen to beat Matt Murray with a wrist shot glove-side from the hashmarks.
The period continued at a fast pace. Pittsburgh pressured Nashville and goaltender Pekka Rinne was forced to make a couple strong saves to keep his team in the lead.
The Predators countered the Penguins’ momentum with opportunities of their own and with 22.6 seconds left in the period winger James Neal, off a strong play by teammate Viktor Arvidsson behind the net, banked a puck off the back of Matt Murray and into the net to give Nashville a two-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
Nashville outshot Pittsburgh 16-13 in the second period and hits were 27-18 in favor of the Predators after two periods.
Going into the 3rd the Penguins had the slight advantage on the faceoff winning 51.1%
Nashville extended its two-goal lead to three on a turnover from Penguin forward Chris Kunitz that resulted in a Craig Smith breakaway goal glove-side on Matt Murray.
Pittsburgh pressured Nashville to get back into the game to no avail. Evgeni Malkin took a matching penalty with Predators forward Filip Forsberg each for cross checking behind the play. On the same shift Sidney Crosby took a penalty for boarding Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis.
Crosby would not serve the duration of his penalty as Mattias Ekholm scored in the power play blocker-side on Matt Murray from the left point with 6:50 left in the period to make it 5-1.
There would be no more goals in the game yet the physicality maintained. Five separate players were given 10-minute misconducts in the final five minutes of the game in order to keep the scrums from escalating.
Pittsburgh outshot Nashville 9-5 despite the Predators scoring the only two goals of the period
The final shot total was 33-28 in favor of Nashville who also had more hits in the game 33-26.
Pittsburgh had 20 blocked shots to Nashville’s 12 and won the majority of the faceoffs with 52.9%.
Pittsburgh was 0/3 on the powerplay while Nashville was 2/3
Final Score 5-1 - Game 4 is Monday night 8pm EST
Photo: (CBC Sports)