Penguins taking nothing for granted in Game 2
Pittsburgh — The winning team went nearly two full periods without a shot. The hottest goaltender in the playoffs was only tested 11 times in 58 minutes — and lost.
No wonder Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan described his team’s 5-3 victory over Nashville in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as “bizarre.”
And that doesn’t even include the catfish tossed onto the ice by a Predators fan at PPG Paints Arena in the middle of a second period.
The fish that splatted on the Nashville blue line earned the thrower three misdemeanor charges and also came as close to Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne as anything the Penguins managed during 20 minutes in which the highest-scoring team in the league couldn’t even muster a single shot.
“It’s not always pretty,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “We don’t get points for style. But what I love about our team is that we find ways to win, we compete.”
True, though for the majority of Game 1, the competition was pretty one-sided. The Predators controlled the pace and the puck, just not the scoreboard. It left the guys from “Smashville” in a new position for the first time since they began their mad dash to the final a month ago: chaser instead of chasee as Game 2 looms tonight.
“Now we face a little adversity,” said defenseman Ryan Ellis, who scored the first Stanley Cup Final goal in team history. “We see what kind of group and character we have to bounce back.”
The Predators haven’t dropped consecutive games in the postseason and their four previous losses were pretty easy to explain.
What happened on Monday night was not. The only area where Nashville wasn’t markedly better than the defending Stanley Cup champions is the only one that really matters.
“Everything was there that we liked but the result,” Ellis said.
Ellis described the Predators as more disappointed than mad. You can probably add baffled to the list.
Nashville became the first team since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1957 to hold a team without a shot for an entire period during the Stanley Cup Final. The gulf actually stretched 37 minutes in all, which sounds like a perfect way for the opponent to win.
Stanley Cup Finals
Nashville vs. Pittsburgh
All games at 8 p.m.; Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 on NBC; Games 2 and 3 on NBCSN; all games on CBC.
Game 1: Pittsburgh 5-3
Wednesday: at Pittsburgh
Saturday: at Nashville
Monday: at Nashville
x-Thursday, June 8: at Pittsburgh
x-Sunday, June 11: at Nashville
x-Wednesday, June 14: at Pittsburgh