Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

Rinne chopped his stick against a goalpost not once, but twice after giving up a fifth and final goal a year ago when Nashville was ousted from the playoffs.

Sidney Crosby got three assists as six different scorers secured the win. In Game 5 they got run out of the building as the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the first 6 goals of the pivotal game. "We know it's not going to be easy. Right now we've just got to focus on Game 6 at home and put all our energy in that one".

"I don't know if anybody shakes off a game like that that quickly", Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "We just have to do a better job in front of him". But now, for the second time this series, the Predators must try to overcome a 3-0 deficit.

Well now, we've got a series. Right now, Neal hasn't been changing much.

First-period barrage: The Penguins jumped on the Predators from the start with forecheck pressure and two quick goals (Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust). It was Crosby who sent the message - with his vision, his creativity and, oddly, his fists.

This is as bad a game as I've ever seen.

And apparently not taking any more stuff from Subban either. Crosby added his third helper on Phil Kessel's first goal of the final. He attempted to extract himself but couldn't, then unleashed a torrent of punches at Subban's head. That's pretty good, considering he played almost 25 minutes, often against Crosby's line. "I had a gesture with my hand and before I knew it the thing was flying across the ice. I was in some kind of lock there". They didn't get that many, but still they won those two games.

And why would Crosby have any reason to take a liberty on Subban? He was spectacular in Games 3 and 4, where he allowed just two goals. The good news is that Rinne has been outstanding at home throughout the postseason, losing at Bridgestone Arena only once while earning nine wins there.

More news: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles

Saros hardly fared any better. The 34-year-old was especially sharp in Game 4 - notably denying Crosby on his second breakaway attempt of the game.

Nashville may be without defenseman Ryan Ellis, who didn't finish Thursday night's loss. Four of the prior 12 clubs went on to win the Cup: the 1966 and 1971 Montreal Canadiens, 2009 Penguins and 2011 Boston Bruins.

"That was a huge game", Rinne said.

Midway through the first period of Game 5, the Penguins have six shots to the Predators' four.

No matter how the ice has tilted one way or another, this Final has earned some extra attention for the Nashville hockey effect with catfish and country music artists, from surprise anthem singers to Carrie Underwood, the wife of Predators captain Mike Fisher.

When Subban was asked if it was getting personal, he just said, "It's hockey, man". "It's about going back and forth".

Penguins goaltender Matt Murray, who has not lost three consecutive games in his National Hockey League career, has stopped all nine shots he's faced. Then there's the attraction of the Penguins looking to become the first team to repeat as Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. Crosby also moved into a tie with Denis Potvin for 19th on the all-time career playoff scoring list. The teams combined for 100 penalty minutes (58 for Nashville, 42 for Pittsburgh).

Pucks bouncing past him on the NHL's biggest stage infuriate him. Center Nick Bonino, who has missed three straight games with an injured left foot, did not practice for the Pens. While his per-game averages were better with the Penguins, it shouldn't take away from what he's done in Nashville as he, too, joined a team with a plethora of options on the offensive side of the puck.

Related news