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Penguins defeat Predators 5-3 in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Finals

30 May 2017

The Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead on goals by Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and then Nick Bonino, when the puck went in off Nashville's Mattias Ekholm.

The Penguins almost blew a 3-0 lead, one compounded by an very bad offensive effort in the middle part of the game, before Jake Guentzel saved it with a goal at 16:43 of the third period. "They'll win the cup in in 6", said Skip Clayton of Coraopolis. Pittsburgh was floundering at that point, but the poise of the Stanley Cup champions helped them pull it out in the end, though this was no artistic masterpiece. It's their ability to survive when they don't.

Reigning NHL champions the Pittsburgh Penguins drew first blood in the Stanley Cup Final, surviving to beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 in their opener. No question, the Predators' defense had a lot to do with that - Nashville was credited with 14 blocked shots and 37 hits - but the Penguins offered little resistance.

"None of us in our dressing room is fooled by the score tonight", Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins were outshot 26-12 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. And yet it didn't matter. "We've got some things that we need to improve".

The Penguins will have the luxury of doing it with the lead. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal.

In the second year the procedure has been allowed by the NHL, Sullivan challenged what looked like the Predators' first goal when P.K. Subban scored 7:13 into the first period of Game 1. I don't think it's X's and O's.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne made just seven saves on the day, facing only 11 shots. The double overtime goal-scorer in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, Kunitz quickly found Sheary on the weak-side and he fired past Rinne. He wasn't the kind of devastated some goaltenders might have been, losing this kind of game. The Penguins' 12 total shots are the fewest ever by a victor in the finals.

Pittsburgh looked a step behind at the outset.

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Taking a page from the Detroit Red Wings' time-honored octopi-throwing tradition, Predators fans have made it a tradition to throw catfish on the ice in Nashville.

"I thought our guys played great", said Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. "We just have to watch video here and learn from our mistakes and move forward".

A 3-0 Penguins lead occurred because of some pretty decent luck. Still, it was a bullet from a rookie who has gained a reputation for scoring big-time goals in these playoffs. However, all the offside challenge has done is give coaches an opportunity to challenge every play that is within inches of going one way or the other. "I think we know we didn't play our best". Pittsburgh often gets contributions offensively from all four of their lines while Nashville will probably have to rely more on their top two lines to generate goals. They haven't at any point during their remarkable run. They became the first team to go shot-less in a period in a Stanley Cup final game since the National Hockey League began tracking shots on goal in 1957-58.

The Penguins' influx of offense started with a pair of penalties on Predators at 13:50. If an attacking team starts to feel pressure in the offensive zone, they can throw a puck back to center ice and try to attack again without having to leave the attacking zone, which would make for boring hockey should a team with a lead continue to throw the puck back to center ice every time it faces pressure. Bonino later added an empty-netter to close the scoring.

Or perhaps we should say shot itself in the toe. "The fact that he didn't get one in the last round was a bit surprising".

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This story has been corrected to show Penguins shot drought was 37 minutes.

Penguins defeat Predators 5-3 in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Finals