Published: Sat, June 10, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Predators' concerns widespread with Penguins 1 win from Cup

The defending champions provided an emphatic and repeated reminder of what makes them such a hard out in a 6-0 demolition of the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-2 lead.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Ron Hainsey scored for the Penguins. Rinne got the hook after allowing three goals on nine shots in the first period, and Nashville backup Juuse Saros didn't fare much better, giving up three goals in relief.

The two-time MVP's eventful night included becoming the franchise's all-time leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Final, a two-minute roughing penalty for trying to dribble Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban's head on the ice near the end of the first period and what he said was an inadvertent flip of a water bottle onto the ice during play.

Subban has two assists and 13 penalty minutes in the series, while Crosby has a goal, a series-high six assists, and six penalty minutes for the defending champions.

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There's the third Stanley Cup - one more than mentor and team owner Mario Lemieux - and the chance to lead the first repeat Cup champs in the salary cap era and first in nearly 20 years. The Preds will have a chance to redeem themselves when they head to Nashville on Sunday for Game 6. "I think Sid really understands the opportunity that this team has, and he's not taking anything for granted", added Sullivan, whose Penguins could become the first repeat Stanley Cup winners since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-1998.

"He lost his stick, and he was doing some UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] move on my foot", Crosby said. It wasn't, however, justification to bounce Subban's head off the ice repeatedly.

"I'm not an official so I'm not going to judge what's over the line and what's not", Subban said.

Outside of the crowd offering motivation and energy, none of the players really saw a big difference in the way the games had been played but searched nonetheless for small nuances. "But it's hard just to sit here and say, oh, yeah, it's gone, everything is good". Since he comes to the games in extravagant suits and plays every game passionately, he's often been labeled as a "cocky" player and as one of the league's best defensemen that have made questionable plays in the past, he's labeled as a "dirty" player. I don't even know what [Subban] did, I'm not sure.

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For the first time since 2011, we've got a final that appears to have some legitimate bad blood.

Fans welcomed the team back home as they landed at Nashville International Airport just before 1 a.m.

"I thought I was OK in Game 3, obviously not great, but I thought I was pretty good in Game 4", Murray said after practice on Wednesday.

The Penguins held a 3-0 lead following the first period of play. "It all started with that start and got us going for the rest of the game". Crosby had been taken down by Ryan Ellis, to go between Ellis and Roman Josi.

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Or, as the eminently quotable Malkin put it, "We have good feeling, and we go to Nashville to win". The goal was the first of three in the period, but it was Crosby's effort that got everybody juiced up. Kessel ended a six-game goal drought 8:02 into the second. It took 907 career games before Hainsey would reach the playoffs and at times, including Game's 3 and 4 in Nashville, has looked slow and more of a liability for Pittsburgh than an asset.

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