Third-period outburst spurs Penguins to Game 2 win, 2-0 Stanley Cup Final lead over Predators

The Pittsburgh Penguins scored three goals in the first 3:30 of the third period en route to a Game 2 win over the Nashville Predators and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins are now two wins away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions. Third-period fireworks lifted the Penguins to a 4-1 win Wednesday against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 series lead.

Like in Game 1 Monday, the visiting Predators got on the scoreboard first Wednesday. Unlike Game 1, the goal wasn't challenged and taken away. Pontus Aberg gave Nashville a 1-0 lead in Game 2 after he skated down the left side of the ice and skillfully breezed around Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta. Delaying as he skated left to right in front of crease, Aberg finally riffled off a wrist shot from close range to beat goalie Matt Murray at 12:57 in the first period.

Recap | Box score | Highlights

Nashville's lead was short-lived. Camped out near the right side of the net, Penguins forward Jake Guentzel collected the rebound off a shot from Conor Sheary and somehow found a postage stamp's worth of space between Predators goalie Pekka Rinne's arm and body to slip the puck through to make it 1-1 with 3:24 left in the opening stanza.

Jake Guentzel goes from rookie to Stanley Cup catalyst, with an assist from his idol

Guentzel wasn't done. Just ten seconds into the third period, the rookie netted his second goal of the night, and his 12th of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Scott Wilson made it 3-1 in favor of the Penguins 3:03 later. Evgeni Malkin chased Rinne from the game with a wrist shot 15 seconds after that to give the Penguins a 4-1 edge. Chants of "We want the Cup!" echoed throughout PPG Paints Arena moments before Patric Hornqvist appeared to have scored Pittsburgh's fifth goal of the night at 6:48 in the final period; however, the goal was waved off after Nashville successfully challenged the call, arguing that Pittsburgh's Matt Cullen had been offside in the lead-up to the goal.

Nashville will look to snap its two-game losing streak Saturday when the Predators host the Penguins in Game 3.

Highlight of the night

I don't know what's better: Aberg's short work getting around Pittsburgh defenseman Maatta or how he got Murray to commit while he stalled before the shot. Either way, the end result is one heck of a goal for Nashville.

Quote of the Night

P.K. Subban and Malkin got into a tussle in the third period and it looked pretty heated. Both weighed in on how things went down: 

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Stat of the Night

Nineteen: That's how many points Guentzel has scored this postseason. His second point Wednesday leapfrogged the 22-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska over Jeremy Roenick (18 points in 1990) and Joe Mullen (18 points in 1982) for first place all-time in points among rookies in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He's still got two goals to go to catch Dino Ciccarelli's mark for rookie playoff goals (14).

“It’s crazy, you can’t even put it into words,” Guentzel said in his postgame presser.

Three Stars

3. Matt Murray (PIT) Murray made 36 saves Wednesday night in the victory. The 23-year-old now has 20 career postseason wins in 28 games played. Only Bill Durnan (26 games played between 1944-47) and Patrick Roy (27 games played between 1986-88) recorded their respective 20th career playoff victories quicker.

2. Chris Kunitz (PIT) Kunitz tallied two assists in Game 2 and now has a three-game points streak.

1. Jake Guentzel (PIT) Guentzel scored twice Wednesday, including Pittsburgh's game-tying and game-winning goals, smashing a rookie record along the way.