Predators 4 Penguins 1 (Series tied 2-2)
The Stanley Cup Final is officially a best of three series after Nashville tied the series 2-2 after a 4-1 win in Game 4 Monday night. The Preds were bolstered by another sensational effort by goalie Pekka Rinne, and it’s no coincidence that his great performance led to a win.
-This series shifted to a higher gear somewhere in the middle of that second period. The pace, the speed, everything seemed to ratchet up to a new level.
The teams went back and forth, with fantastic chances on both sides. Gaudreau’s wrap around put Nashville in front 2-1, and Rinne then made some unbelievable saves through the second and third period to keep the Preds in the lead. Fisher’s diving pass sprung Arvidsson on a breakaway and he didn’t miss, blowing one past Murray’s glove side. That’s all the Preds would need, as Rinne settled in and made saves that were difficult in Pittsburgh look easy in Game 4.
His play has been the biggest difference. Pittsburgh hasn’t looked terrible, they just haven’t been gifted anything like they were in the first two games.
-The Nashville crowd once again did not disappoint. It was rowdy, and the crowd outside looked just as into it. This obviously shouldn’t be a surprise anymore. But let’s pump the brakes for a little bit with the Chicago Stadium comparisons. Pierre McGuire during Game 3, and then Charles Barkley tonight compared the noise inside Bridgestone to being close to what it was like when the Hawks and Bulls played in the old Chicago Stadium. That’s valid parallel to make because of the size, and I do believe that it’s really, really loud in there. But to tweet something like “Is Bridgestone Arena the new Chicago Stadium?” is ridiculous. What Nashville has is great, but relax with anointing Bridgestone the “New Barn.” Ok, rant over.
-The Preds avoided disaster in the third period when PK Subban blocked a shot on the inside of his leg, around his knee or calf. Subban stayed down on the ice for awhile, and was in clear pain, as Preds fans held their collective breath (no pun intended). After a few minutes in the room, PK emerged back on the bench and didn’t miss a shift. Huge for Nashville.
-The Pens don’t look like they’re doing anything different from the first two games. They are getting chances, and finding ways around the Preds’ suffocating defense. The difference, again, is just that Rinne is making the tough saves that he wasn’t in the first two games. His rebound control and net presence have been lightyears better. Again, credit to Rinne for responding to the bell when called. He’s been lights out. Us Hawks fans recognize this version of Rinne all too well.
-Dolly Parton has to sing the anthem for Game 6, right? Or do they go Carrie for the second time? I’m not sure, all I know is whoever sings has to knock it out of the park after Dierks Bentley basically talked the anthem into the mic before Game 4. Brutal.
So they say it isn’t officially a series until someone loses at home. Well, both teams protected home ice pretty dang well. We’re now going to be treated to a three game fever pitch shootout for the Stanley Cup. That’s all we could have asked for from the start.