NASHVILLE — Frederick Gaudreau is doing his best to earn his own locker with the Nashville Predators after a Stanley Cup finals debut for the ages.
Gaudreau, an undrafted free agent playing in just his sixth postseason game, scored the go-ahead goal 3 minutes 45 seconds into the second period Monday night, and Pekka Rinne made 23 often spectacular saves as the Predators pummeled the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1.
With Rinne turning in his best performance of the finals, the Predators are headed back to Pittsburgh having tied the Penguins, the N.H.L.’s defending champions, 2-2, turning the series into a best-of-three sprint to the Stanley Cup.
Gaudreau, a 24-year-old rookie, has only a chair in the Predators’ locker room, but he is now the second player in N.H.L. history to score his first three career goals in a Stanley Cup finals, joining Johnny Harms with the 1944 Chicago Blackhawks.
Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, which improved to 9-1 at home in the postseason.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in the series after not getting a shot on goal in Game 3. The score was his first in the Stanley Cup finals since June 4, 2009 — a span of 12 games. The goal came after he was held without a shot for only the fifth time in his career during the playoffs.
The Penguins have now lost two straight games for the second time this postseason. They also lost Games 5 and 6 against Washington. Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray lost a second consecutive game for the first time in his young career.
Game 5 is set for Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
Craig Smith, who had two of Nashville’s first six shots, ricocheted a puck off Murray’s pads that Jarnkrok tapped in at 14:51 to start the fans yelling. Pittsburgh lost a challenge for goalie interference.
Then Crosby tied it up for the Penguins on a breakaway just 66 seconds later. He skated in on Rinne, holding the puck before scoring behind the goalie’s leg for his eighth goal and his 24th point of the playoffs.
Rinne kept it tied in the early minutes of the second period, first with a stop of Jake Guentzel before a big save on Chris Kunitz’s shot on a breakaway.
Gaudreau’s wraparound attempt early in the second was reviewed by officials, who ruled that Gaudreau had slid the puck just over the line before Murray stopped it. The referee Dan O’Halloran announced it as a goal, giving Nashville a 2-1 lead.
Crosby had another breakaway midway through the period, and Rinne stopped him not once, but twice. Rinne slid to his right, stopping Guentzel, with an assist from Nashville defenseman Roman Josi.
Arvidsson gave Nashville a 3-1 lead with his first goal since the end of the first round. James Neal started the play, getting the puck to Mike Fisher, who fed it to Arvidsson while falling to the ice. Arvidsson beat Murray under his glove, putting the puck just inside the right post at 13:08.
Forsberg sealed the win with an empty-netter with 3:23 left in the third.
Nashville tapped the country singer Dierks Bentley as the latest to sing the national anthem, while the country singer Jason Aldean waved a towel to rev up the crowd. The former N.B.A. star and television commentator Charles Barkley also was on hand, accepting N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman’s invitation to watch in person.
Rain most of Monday kept the crowd outside from topping the more than 50,000 who turned out Saturday night for the first Stanley Cup finals game in Tennessee. Enough people filled up Broadway for three blocks to watch three giant TV screens, even with Nashville opening up a downtown amphitheater for fans to view the game.
After the anthem, two catfish and one stuffed penguin hit the ice, despite Nashville Coach Peter Laviolette’s video plea asking fans not to throw anything.
Published at Tue, 06 Jun 2017 04:02:27 +0000