By: Jeremy Perrigo
Nashville came out strong to start Game 1, registering the first four shots on net and controlling play in the Pittsburgh end of the ice early in the opening frame.
The Predators continued to pressure until P.K. Subban fired a puck through traffic to beat goaltender Matt Murray 7:13 into the first period. The goal would eventually be reversed after a coach’s review determined Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offsides as the play entered the Pittsburgh zone. After the no-goal call the momentum of the game began to shift in the Penguins’ favor. With 6:10 left in the first period Nashville forwards Calle Jarnkrok and James Neal took simultaneous penalties for interference and cross checking respectively.
On the ensuing 5-3 power play Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin fired a shot from the point that found its way behind Predators goalie Pekka Rinne with 4:28 left in the period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Pittsburgh would add another goal shortly after. With 3:23 left in the period winger Conor Sheary one-timed a puck on an empty net from the bottom of the right circle off a cross-ice pass from Chris Kunitz to extend the Penguin lead to 2.
With 17 seconds remaining in the first Pittsburgh tallied a third goal from center Nick Bonino. Bonino attempted to pass the puck in front of the Nashville net which redirected off Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm behind Pekka Rinne.
Nashville went to the power play down 3-0 after Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole took a penalty 6:39 into the second period. On the ensuing power play Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis scored off a shot from the left point to get Nashville on the board with 11:39 remaining in the period. Matt Murray was screened by Nashville winger Viktor Arvidsson in front giving Ellis the opportunity to fire his shot into the net. Nashville continued to pressure Pittsburgh into the dying seconds of the period, unable to find the back of the net. The Predators outshot the Penguins 9-0 in the second frame, catching Pittsburgh scrambling to make it out of the period without allowing a second goal.
Nashville and Pittsburgh traded chances for the first half of the 3rd period until Evgeni Malkin took a penalty for slashing P.K. Subban 9:36 into the period.
On the resulting power play a shot from the right point by Predators defenseman Roman Josi deflected off the knee of winger Colton Sissons in front of the net and past Matt Murray. This cut the Penguins lead to 3-2 with 9:54 left in the third period. Shortly after killing a P.K. Subban penalty for delay of game, the Predators tied the game off a strong individual effort from Austin Watson 13:29 into the period. Watson beat two Pittsburgh defensemen and curled the Penguin net to find Frederick Gaudreau for his first goal of the playoffs and his first career NHL goal overall.
Pittsburgh answered 3:14 after the Nashville tying goal with a goal from Jake Guentzel, his tenth goal of the postseason, streaking down the right side to put the Penguins up 4-3 with 3:17 left in the period. (Video below)
With Nashville’s net empty Nick Bonino added an empty-net goal from center ice with 1:02 left in the 3rd to give the Penguins the 5-3 lead.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh at 8pm EST.
Photo Credit:(Pittsburgh Goal Celebration) (theintelligencer.com)