NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Predators dug themselves in a deep hole Wednesday, surrendering two third period goals in 15 seconds.
The first third period goal set a record for the fastest goal in Penguins playoff history. It took rookie Jake Guentzel 10 seconds to bury a rebound score.
The Predators will limp home to Bridgestone Arena Saturday trailing 2 games to 0. They could not survive the hockey tsunami, as the Penguins piled on, giving up four goals in a third period that started with the score tied 1-1 after two periods.
It was 5-1 at that time, but game officials wiped out the fifth goal on an off- sides call against the Penguins.
It left the Predators losing 4-1, and it was not to be on this night in the Steel City.
By then the game resembled a WWE Smackdown, not a Stanley Cup Final game.
Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray was at his best in this game. The Predators could not find the spaces they needed to get pucks past the 22-year old rookie.
The records tell us teams that fall behind by losing the first two games go on to lose 90 percent of best-of-seven series. Will the Predators be in the 90 percent, or pull off a miracle four wins to join the 10 percent club?
It was the first time Predators goalie Pekka Rinne had lost back-to-back games since March.
As expected both teams came out with a fast and furious mindset. The Penguins were looking to come to Nashville with a two-game win streak. The Predators were desperate to return home tied with a win to even the score.
The Predators jumped out first at 7:03 in the first period on Pontus Aberg’s goal. The Penguins were firing at will at Rinne and scored on a power play shot by Guentzel at 16:26 in the first period. Conor Sheary had an assist on the play.
This 1-1 period was chocked full of hard checking and some extra activities after play was stopped.
It was the most physical period for both teams in the series and it never slowed down. For those players who had them there were ample teeth-rattling hits.
These two teams don’t like each other. The Penguins took all the steam out of the Predators early in the fatal third period, but the physical disputes continued to the final horn.
Preds defenseman P.K. Subban did his part by holding down Pens star Sidney Crosby.
I’m not saying Subban was intimate with Crosby, but I bet he could tell you what Crosby had for the pregame meal.
The next two games are played in Nashville.
I doubt the Penguins will be treated with Southern hospitality.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.