What Happened To Pekka Rinne?


The Penguins' scoring outburst early in the third period led Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to replace goaltender Pekka Rinne and bring in backup Juuse Saros after Rinne had given up four goals on 25 shots. This year is the first time in franchise history that the Preds are playing in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were outshot, again. Then it's way too much.

Pontus Aberg scored for Nashville, which has 18 shots, and Jake Guentzel scored for Pittsburgh, which has 12. His goal 10 seconds into the third period went down as the game victor, which gives him five during this playoff run.

Guentzel notched the game-winning goal in Games 1 and 2 of the Final, and his five winners this postseason is a rookie record.

"It's insane. You can't even put into words what it feels like", he said.

Emotion should help the Predators carry the lead into the third period, but the Pens have been in these situations many times and they know how to come through.

On Wednesday, Rinne probably would like to have two goals back. The 34-year-old spent the first three rounds of the playoffs helping carry Nashville to the Final for the first time.

It was the morning of Game 2, but the Nashville Predators goalie was somewhere else entirely.

Then, just over three minutes later, the Predators had their second own-goal in as many games, when Vernon Fiddler's skate knocked a bouncing puck through Rinne's five-hole - the goal officially goes to Scott Wilson, but equal credit should go to Phil Kessel, who earned the assist for sneaking the puck into a risky position.

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Guentzel scored on a long, juicy rebound of a Bryan Rust shot just 10 seconds into third period, the quickest goal to start a period in Penguins playoff history. And the Preds have the best home record in these Playoffs. At the other end, Rinne looked like he couldn't wait for the period to end.

"A lot of stuff out there is out of your control so I just try not to worry about anything that I can't control and just worry about doing my job and trying to give the team the best chance to win", Murray said after Wednesday's 37-save performance.

Not only does Guentzel have a knack for scoring, but he's been a key player in scoring big goals that have shifted the momentum of games in Pittsburgh's favor.

Asked twice afterward if he was committed to starting Rinne on Saturday, Laviolette stressed Rinne has been "terrific", adding there are plenty of things the Predators can do better in front of him like stopping the odd-man rushes that allowed the Penguins to take charge. Some of them have not been his fault, the Preds have given up an own goal in each game. But they lost Game 2 by a score of 4-1, and trail the series 2-0, and it was like watching Ali come off the ropes. The Predators rallied to tie before Guentzel's go-ahead goal with 3:17 remaining put the Penguins ahead to stay. Sensing their opponent was on the ropes and bleeding, the Penguins delivered the knockout punch 15 seconds afterwards on a shot that went crossbar-down from Evgeni Malkin.

Two nights later, the Penguins used a three-minute stretch at the start of the third period to turn a tight Game Two into a runaway win.

In Game 1, Nashville held the Penguins without a shot for 37 minutes. "We want to score more". The rookie from Omaha, Nebraska, leads the playoffs with 12 goals and has scored the past three goals for Pittsburgh. He was 1 of FIVE players called up for the game due to the food poisoning epidemic.

Continuing to apply pressure, the Penguins created a two-on-one break in which Malkin kept the puck and shot it from the left wing, beating Rinne high on the glove side. Those numbers ballooned after the first two games against the Penguins.

Cullen, a former Moorhead Spuds star, left briefly in the first period after being hit from behind into the boards by Predators D Matt Irwin. He was also huge for the Penguins' penalty kill, which was ideal in the game.

For the first 40 minutes, P.K. Subban and the Predator's back line swarmed the middle of their defensive zone, pushing and prodding Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin around the ice while keeping them pointless.