Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

The Latest: Predators beat Penguins 4-1, even Final at 2-2

Bryan Rust scored the second goal for the Penguins, increasing the lead to 2-0. The positivity of two straight home wins lies shattered after the Pittsburgh Penguins iced away a 6-0 win, sending the Predators back home needing an answer to force a deciding Game 7. Sidney Crosby, who was reunited on his line with Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary for the first time in a while, had the juice early. Now, they have to do it again.

Of the three, it's the latter that seems the most plausible. The shot total was tied at nine, but the Penguins converted three of those to complete their best period in three games. You might even entertain the notion of starting the other guy. His wraparound toward an open net slides through the slot instead. Defensively, the Pittsburgh Penguins are allowing 2.8 goals per game and are killing 79.8 percent of their power play chances.

The Finnish goalie has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Five-hole in this series. The Penguins got more of their forwards involved in the scoring - a necessity from their previous two games - with eight of their 12 forwards notching at least a point.

"You have those thoughts: why now?" Oh, and don't forget the water bottle toss just moments before Phil Kessel's first goal of the series pushed the lead to 5-0. "We did a good job of that and got rewarded for it". While he never played quite as poorly, he allowed five goals in Game 3 - the most he's ever given up in the playoffs - and four in Game 4.

The Predators say their watch party at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville was sold out nearly an hour before puck drop, with thousands of fans inside.

It was as bad a start as you could have expected. Game 6 is Sunday night at 8 PM.

It was Rinne who practically swept the Chicago Blackhawks on his own in the first round, posting two shutouts and a.976 save percentage. That he is coming off another rough outing in Pittsburgh hasn't changed anyone's perception of him. Malkin got into a scrap with Roman Josi. The best thing about my job is when I'm in work for two straight months, like the National Hockey League playoffs, I'm in a room with 20 televisions. We have no doubt in him.

It's not false confidence. He's 8-1 in the post-season after a loss. The one loss came in overtime in the Western Conference final. He managed to get the puck to a crashing Malkin, who whipped it past Preds goalie Pekka Rinne with 10.2 seconds left to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

So, yeah, there's precedence for how the Predators are feeling.

Predator coach Peter Laviolette, who talked to The AP, didn't put all the blame on Rinne. "It's not about me, it's all about us. We need to do it again to win another game".

That doesn't really matter though because he stepped up when the team needed it most.

The point is that you can't count on clutch, it's just something that happens. And when he's vocal, it pushes you to be better. "Two teams that skate well up and down the ice", Rinne said Wednesday from the team hotel.

That play appeared to serve as a signal that Game 5 would belong to the Penguins. But right now, there's no favourites. "I the end of the day, I just got to play the game".

"We have a lot of work to do as an organization, still".

Crosby had three assists in the game, and his decisive play left the Predators on their heels.

Early on, it was apparent that a different Penguins team had showed up than the one in Nashville. If it goes to a Game 7, however, the Predators might have a more hard decision on their hands. "Those two first games, that was the one thing we were a little bit disappointed about". But he does believe they have an advantage with the series down to a best-of-three and two of the games of the road. "Things I can do better".

But at home in Nashville he rebounded from those shaky efforts to stop 50 of the 52 shots he faced to improve to 9-1 at home in this season's playoffs. Only Nashville's Filip Forsberg has more goals and points on the team.



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