PITTSBURGH: The Pittsburgh Penguins kept Pekka Rinne plenty busy this time.
Too busy for Rinne and the rest of the Nashville Predators to keep up with the surging defending Stanley Cup champions.
Jake Guentzel, Scott Wilson and Evgeni Malkin scored 3:18 apart early in the third period as the Penguins chased Rinne and pulled away for a 4-1 victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night. The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 2-0. Game 3 is Saturday night in Nashville in what amounts to a last stand for the Predators and their suddenly very average-looking goalie.
The 22-year-old Guentzel finished with two goals to give him an NHL-high 12 during the playoffs, the second most by a rookie in postseason history. His 19 playoff points are the most by an American-born first-year player and he’ll have at least two more cracks at adding to that total.
If the Predators don’t get it together back home in “Smashville,” it might only be two.
Matt Murray played spectacularly at times through the first two periods, buying his teammates enough time to find their footing and get to Rinne. Murray finished with 37 saves in all as he helped move the Penguins to within two victories of becoming the first team to go back-to-back since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
Pontus Aberg scored the lone goal for the Predators, who were once again undone by a sudden barrage from the NHL’s highest-scoring team.
In Game 1, the Penguins pushed three goals by Rinne in a span of 4:11 in the first period to build a 3-0 lead. The Predators rallied to tie before Guentzel’s go-ahead goal with 3:17 remaining put the Penguins ahead to stay.