Stanley Cup Final: Penguins on cusp of repeat after clinic

By the time the dust settled in Thursday's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins emerged with a 6-0 victory - in large part thanks to Sidney Crosby and the energized play of a few other previously slumping stars - and find themselves on the cusp of defending their championship from a year ago.

Rinne denied chance after chance after Crosby's goal, many of them saves that the 6-foot-5 Finn struggled to make in Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh.

Mattias Ekholm said everything is created to make opponents work hard and fellow defenseman Ryan Ellis noted that the hard work is required of the Predators, too.

"If anything we just need to press a little more", Cullen said.

"We've got some confidence. It's a good chance to again lead the series". The good news? They're 9-1 at home in the playoffs. We know it's an exciting challenge. "We all know it".

With their win Monday in Game Four, the Predators became the 13th team to even the Final at 2-2 after dropping the first two games of the series. If it goes to a Game 7, however, the Predators might have a more hard decision on their hands.

"Help us secure our home-ice advantage and prevent us from being penalized for unnecessary reasons". He also managed to pull through for the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals last season, after winning the first two games and losing Game 3. Nashville won its two at home by a combined 9-2.

"That's all I wanted for my birthday", Fisher said afterward of the big win.

The home team has won each of the first five games of the Final for just the 12th time since the National Hockey League went to a best-of-seven series in the final round in 1939, and for the first time since 2011. Meanwhile, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was not ready to name his starter for Game 5 after Matt Murray's two sub-par performances in Games 3 and 4. Expect Rinne to be back in net for Game 6 in Nashville. It always has a connotation of hopelessness. "We believe if we continue to try to do the right things out there, we'll score".

Kessel has scored more goals on a per-game basis in the playoffs (0.43 for his career) than any current player not named Alex Ovechkin or Jarome Iginla (minimum 50 games). He was a liability in net after a roaring postseason to that point, and even though teammates stuck by his side, it might not have upset some fans to see Peter Laviolette make a speculated goalie change heading into Game 3. I want to play because it is so much fun. "But all-in-all, I thought I played pretty good". The balanced Nashville offense received goals off the sticks of Calle Jarnkrok, Frederick Gaudreau, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg while eight different players recorded assists.

Bonino now boasts four goals and seven points through 21 postseason games, a step back from the 18 points in 24 games that he was able to put up during the team's successful championship run in 2016.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, stops a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) during the second period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday, June 5, 2017, in Nashvill.

"Two-out-of-three now. It's pedal down. We knew that coming in here", Laviolette, whose team is 5-5 on the road, told reporters on Tuesday.

That probably goes for both clubs. Of course, the biggest weak spot right now is that Pittsburgh has Crosby and Nashville has no answer.