Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

It only can be awarded that night to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who decimated the Predators on Thursday in a 6-0 laugher in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin scored during a first-period barrage against Pekka Rinne that sent the Nashville goaltender to the bench for the rest of the night, all the good mojo he created during a pair of wins in Games 3 and 4 gone.

However, the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets that night with Marc-Andre Fleury subbing for Murray in goal.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby carved through the Predators' defense with an ease that should be unfair, assisting on half of his team's goals.

It was the summer of 2014 - June 27 to be exact - when the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins finalized a deal that three years later would still be playing out in the Stanley Cup Final.

"I'd rather have the puck and be making plays", Crosby said, "but I think that's just the nature of playoffs".

Ron Hainsey, Penguins - If Hainsey scores, you know it is going to be good. "I've said on a number of occasions they are a privilege to coach, and I sincerely mean that".

Rinne was lifted after allowing three goals on nine shots, while his replacement Juuse Saros surrendered three on 15 shots. There is no reason to believe Game 6 will turn out any differently, so follow that betting trend and ride Nashville again.

That, more broadly, is how Murray describes his ability to cooly handle the spotlight - "just worry about doing my job and trying to give the team the best chance to win". Rinne had struggled to start the series in Pittsburgh though, pegged for eight goals on only 36 shots at PPG Paints Arena. But just enjoy how great it is in Pittsburgh.

The NHL has not had a sweep in the Cup final since 1998, and this series will mark the ninth time in the last 10 years the league's ultimate showdown will go at least six games. Right now, Neal hasn't been changing much.

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In the second period, Crosby set up Conor Sheary for a 4-0 lead at 1:19 and got a secondary assist on Phil Kessel's wrister that made it 5-0. It was Crosby who sent the message - with his vision, his creativity and, oddly, his fists.

Bonino took a shot from Nashville's P.K. Subban during Game 2. "I don't think that they were necessarily bad goals".

And apparently not taking any more stuff from Subban either.

On the ensuing power play, Crosby set up Schultz for a slap shot that went under Rinne's pads for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead 1:31 into the first. He attempted to extract himself but couldn't, then unleashed a torrent of punches at Subban's head.

"I have a better arm than that anyway", Crosby said. I know it ends up on the ice but I wouldn't start throwing water bottles at this point. "I didn't try to throw it. I was in some kind of lock there". It was the 60-minute effort the Preds needed to start the series in Pittsburgh when they outshot and outchanced the Pens in each of the first two games only to fall short.

"It's not easy to get here", he said.

Saros hardly fared any better. But they'll have to win again in Pittsburgh next week to lift the Stanley Cup.

On the opening shift, Crosby split Nashville defensemen Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi.

Evgeni Malkin was right and the rout is on: The Penguins lead the Predators 5-0 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final after a second-period goal by Phil Kessel.

Rinne allowed three first-period goals in a span of 4:11 in Game 1.

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