Penguins blast Predators in Game 5, move within one win of Stanley Cup


PITTSBURGH — The dominant theme of the Stanley Cup Final played out again on Thursday night:

It’s good to be at home.

Very good.

For the fifth straight game, the home team emerged victorious — only this time it was in a rout, as Pittsburgh whipped Nashville 6-0 at PPG Paints to take a three games to two series lead.

Pittsburgh can now win its second consecutive Stanley Cup on Sunday, when Game 6 goes in Nashville.

It was a dominant, balanced and thorough effort from the Penguins, who got their six goals from six different skaters: Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Ron Hainsey. Twelve different skaters registered at least one point, with Sidney Crosby leading the way with three.

It was a virtuoso performance the captain.

Crosby dominated from the opening shift, drawing a penalty 50 seconds in, then had a hand in nearly everything that transpired. He was a catalyst in chasing Preds starting netminder Pekka Rinne, assisting on Schultz’s power-play goal, one of three to beat Rinne in the opening frame.

Crosby set up Sheary for the fourth goal, and Kessel for the fifth. He also tangled with nemesis P.K. Subban — punching Subban in the back of the head repeatedly during a late first period skirmish — and even tossed a water bottle onto the playing surface (it was an accident, apparently.)

And if it wasn’t Crosby influencing things, it was one of his teammates. Pretty much everything went Pittsburgh’s way on the night, which was fitting. It’s been that way at PPG Paints all series long.

The Pens have now outscored Nashville 15-4 at home, with the majority of that damage coming at Rinne’s expense. The beleaguered netminder — who’d redeemed himself so well in Games 3 and 4 — now owns some absolutely horrific road numbers: 0-3 record, 5.41 GAA, and a .756 save percentage.

Rinne’s performance was just one in a series of Nashville lowlights. The Preds were shut out for the first time this series, looked discombobulated defensively and, to add injury to insult, lost defenseman Ryan Ellis to an apparent lower-body ailment in the second period.

If there’s a silver lining for the Preds, it’s what we mentioned at the top. Home teams have held serve throughout this series — a perfect 5-0 — and the next game is back in the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.

Of course, that won’t mean a thing if Nashville plays like it did tonight.


Matt Murray recorded his second shutout of the postseason and first in this series, stopping all 24 shots faced… Juuse Saros made 12 saves in relief of Rinne, allowing three goals… Things boiled over in the third period with a series of fights and questionable hits. As a result, the teams finished with a combined 98 penalty minutes… Colton Sissons received a match penalty late in the tilt for a crosscheck to the face of Pens d-man Olli Maatta… The team that has won Game 5 after a split of the opening four contests of the Stanley Cup Final has gone on to win it 17 of 24 times (70.8 percent) since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939… The club that has lost Game 5 has rebounded to win the series in four of the past eight such occasions. All have been since 2001: Colorado Avalanche (2001), Tampa Bay Lightning (2004), Pittsburgh Penguins (2009) and Boston Bruins (2011).

The Buzzer: Spezza bounces back after healthy scratch; another injury for Predators

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Player Of The Night: Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars

On Monday night the Dallas Star made veteran forward Jason Spezza a healthy scratch as he was mired in a lengthy goal-scoring drought. The Stars wanted to see more from him, and they knew he could provide more.

When he stepped back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings he did exactly that by scoring a pair of goals in the Stars’ 4-2 win.

Even though Spezza had been struggling to put points on the board he was still doing an excellent job when it came to driving possession and generating shots, as well as the fact the team was outscoring its opponents when he was on the ice. His ice-time has been cut significantly this season, but he was doing enough to suggest that it was only a matter of time until he got back into the goal column.

He snapped out of it in a big way on Tuesday.

Another big injury for Nashville

The Nashville Predators are already playing without two of their top forwards with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson sidelined.

They lost another one on Tuesday night in their 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights when Ryan Johanson had to leave the game after taking a high hit from William Carrier.

Johanson left the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette had no update on Johansen after the game and said they were given an explanation that it was a clean hit.

The Predators ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kevin Fiala and 43 saves from Jusse Saros.

Highlight Of The Night

Not much in the way of highlight reel plays tonight, but here is a big goal from Vince Dunn to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Factoid Of The Night

A big milestone for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he picks up his 20th win of the season.


New Jersey Devils 4, New York Islanders 1

New York Rangers 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1

Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 2

St. Louis Blues 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

Nashville Predators 1, Vegas Golden Knights 0

San Jose Sharks 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Blackhawks concerned Crawford could miss remainder of season


Here is some less than encouraging news for the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to a report from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday night, there is some growing concern within the Blackhawks organization that starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to experiencing vertigo-like symptoms for the second time in his career.

Crawford has been sidelined since before Christmas due to an upper-body injury, but the team has been quiet on specifics other than to say publicly that they expect him to return this season.

Over the past few years Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top goalies and when he has been on the ice this season has been absolutely stellar for the Blackhawks. Given the current state of their defense and the rate that they give up shots he has become one of the team’s most important players and the one that seems to drive their success more than any other.

[Related: Corey Crawford has become the Blackhawks’ most important player]

In his absence the team has leaned on Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Both have played about as well as could have been expected, but they aren’t Crawford and there is a noticeable drop in play at the position when he is not in there.

In 26 games this season Crawford is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage.

As of Tuesday night the Blackhawks are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting three points back of the Minnesota Wild. They also have the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche sitting between them.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Rick Nash snaps out of slump, powers Rangers to huge win

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The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the teams in the middle of the free-for-all that is the Eastern Conference playoff race that had five teams separated by just three points heading into Tuesday night.

Both teams had been rolling in opposite directions over the past week with the Flyers having won four in a row and five of their past six, while the Rangers were riding a three-game losing skid and had lost four out of five.

Their past two losses coming out of the bye week were especially ugly, losing to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins (two other teams they are competing with) by a combined score of 12-4.

Both the Rangers’ and Flyers’ streaks came to an end in their game on Tuesday with the Rangers picking up a huge 5-1 win.

Rick Nash was the big star for the Rangers on Tuesday with a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the first period to tie the game at one after the Rangers gave up an early goal. It was a big performance for Nash because he had been mired in a brutal slump that had seen him go 12 consecutive games without a goal. He also had just one assist during that stretch. That slump has contributed to a down year offensively that has him on track for one of the least productive seasons of his career.

But he came through in a big way on Tuesday to help give the Rangers two huge points and move them three points ahead of the Flyers. The Flyers still have one game in hand while the two teams will still play three more games the rest of the season.

The Rangers’ win on Tuesday, combined with the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, moves the Rangers back into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

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