The celebration is on in Nashville.
The Predators jumped out to a three-goal lead on a goal from Craig Smith, his first of the playoffs, early in the third period.
He beat Matt Murray with a confident shot to the glove side. Nashville is looking to get its first win of the Stanley Cup Final, down 2-0 in the series entering Game 3 on Saturday.
That’s reason to celebrate for Predators fans. So, of course, a catfish was tossed on the ice at Bridgestone Arena. Yes, another one, after someone tossed a fish following the national anthem.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been able to score in bunches, with a sudden quick-strike offense against the flow of play through two games in this Stanley Cup Final.
The Nashville Predators took a page from that playbook with two goals in 42 seconds early in the second period to take a 2-1 lead on home ice. There is a historical significance, too, as the first Stanley Cup Final goal scored by the home team in Nashville.
More importantly, it gave the Predators a lead in a game they fell behind in early and need to win to avoid a 3-0 series deficit to the defending Stanley Cup champions.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was a Nashville defenseman playing a central role in starting the rally. Roman Josi got it started for the Predators with a power play goal on a slap shot that just changed direction to beat Matt Murray. Frederick Gaudreau continued it seconds later with his second goal of the playoffs.
While getting the lead was critical for the Predators, their goalie Pekka Rinne — he’s had his struggles through two games of this series — made a pair of important saves in the same sequence to maintain it.
He first made a pad stop on Phil Kessel, and then stretched to his right to make an incredible rebound stop on Chris Kunitz.
The Stanley Cup Final has gone country.
Famed country music star Alan Jackson, clad in a Nashville Predators T-shirt, set the stage by headlining the Broadway Smash: Preds Party with a Purpose concert prior to Game 3 on Saturday.
Predators fans lined Lower Broadway to watch the show before their team faced the Penguins, marking the first-ever Stanley Cup Final game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Martina McBride was the latest country star to perform the Star-Spangled Banner just prior to puck drop.
Jake Guentzel has done it again.
The 22-year-old forward opened the scoring at the 2:46 mark of the first period in Game 3, beating Pekka Rinne through the legs after finding a loose puck in front of the Nashville net to conclude a great shift in the offensive zone for the Penguins.
That’s Guentzel’s 13th goal in his 22nd game in these playoffs. Quite a showing this postseason for the former third-round pick, after he had 16 goals in 40 regular season games.
He continues to inch closer to playoff history for an NHL rookie.
He is now one goal shy of tying Dino Ciccarelli’s record for goals scored by a rookie in a single postseason. He’s also two points shy of breaking Ciccarelli’s record for most points (21) in a playoff.
This year’s Stanley Cup Final comes with a whopper of a fish tale.
While the Penguins lead the series 2-0, the hockey world has gained even greater exposure to the tradition in Nashville of a catfish being thrown on the ice of Bridgestone Arena when a Predators fan, Jacob Waddell, chucked a fish on the ice in Pittsburgh in Game 1 of this series.
Talk about catch and release. Waddell was charged. The mayors of both cities got involved. PETA did, too. A day later, those charges were dropped.
His 15 minutes of fame aren’t over yet, however. Waddell was reportedly signing autographs in Nashville on Saturday.
The tradition has consumed members of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The latest is NBC Sports hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick, who got his feet wet trying to catch the perfect fish before learning the art of concealing what is a rather conspicuous creature against his body.
WATCH LIVE: Penguins vs. Predators — Game 3
Predators looking forward to their unique home-ice advantage in Game 3