Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette appeals to linesman Brian Murphy, left, during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh. He had played great in the back-to-back road losses.
Speaking before his fourth appearance in the final - while searching for his third Cup win - Crosby said he was motivated not by history, but by making the most of the rare opportunity to win at all.
Sidney Crosby has avoided two penalties in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Then in game two, the Penguins broke open a 1-1 game with another three goal flurry over the first 3:28 of the third period. Phil Kessel, who was held without a goal for six consecutive games, joined the party a little under seven minutes later with a swift wrist shot. He leads the playoffs with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists). Pittsburgh's two goals came 5:12 apart early in Game 5, on the power play from Justin Schultz and at even strength from Bryan Rust. And then Ron Hainsey, an unlikely offensive source, scored from in close eight minutes later, because why not?
And then there was Matt Murray.
And goalie problems in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final are a special kind of hockey hell.
The question for the Penguins, who are one win away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions, is whether they can get that same team-wide effort on the road in Game 6 on Sunday, where they had so much trouble. We got to be ready to be at our best. "We're going back to our building and we know we're confident in that building". They have a lot of confidence in the way we've played this year. "We understand it. And I think we try to keep an objective assessment of our games".
Prior to the game, a Predators fan tossed a catfish on to the ice. But once the game started, the ice belonged to the Penguins. Or rather, it belonged to the Penguins captain.
Sidney Crosby shoots against Pekka Rinne during Game 5.
But this night ultimately belonged to Crosby, who appeared driven to make something happen every time he touched the puck. "He sets the tone right off the bat". The rest of the team aptly followed.
On the ensuing power play, Crosby set up Schultz for a slap shot that went under Rinne's pads for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead 1:31 into the first.
"He certainly had it going", Hainsey said. "We continued to do that".
For two straight games, the Penguins had struggled, at least on the score sheet.
Though the scores showed regression, the Penguins saw subtle progress, especially in Game 4, when they finally out-chanced the Predators in the series. It didn't work. Saros gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.
The first-period goals chased Rinne from Nashville's net; however, backup Juuse Saros ended up not faring any better. Ellis had a seven-game points streak this postseason. If it goes to a Game 7, however, the Predators might have a more hard decision on their hands. Sheary took a pretty feed from Crosby and sent it by Saros 1:19 into the second to push Pittsburgh's lead to four. The Penguins kept attacking. Malkin, Crosby and Kessel combined for eight points in the victory. Expect Rinne to be back in net for Game 6 in Nashville.
"I think everybody knows Geno's drive in the locker room", said Kunitz. He's now 13-2 all-time at home in the playoffs, including 5-0 this postseason.
He popped for two assists in a series-opening win, set up the lone goal in Game 3 and scored the only goal himself in Game 4. The Penguins played fast and with a goal.
Midway through the first period of Game 5, the Penguins have six shots to the Predators' four. Now, they have to do it again.
"If you've got a team that has momentum and a team that's got desperation, for me anyway, the scarier team is the one that's got desperation", Laviolette said.
A position of strength could turn into a position of weakness.
Nashville's Big 4 on defence might be down to just three after Ryan Ellis left Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final with an undisclosed injury. Or, the home team will win again and the Stanley Cup Final will have its first Game 7 since 2011. "Not that I will". Pittsburgh can win the Cup Sunday in Music City.