By coach Peter Laviolette’s math, the Nashville Predators have been pretty good for all but 10 minutes of the Stanley Cup Final.
It is not much. Unless you are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then it is too much.
Way too much.
The defending Stanley Cup champions on Wednesday needed just over three minutes at the start of the third period to turn a taut Game 2 into a runaway, beating Pekka Rinne three times in a 4-1 victory to inch closer to becoming the first team in nearly 20 years to win back-to-back titles.
The barrage started with Jake Guentzel.
Mired in an eight-game goal drought heading into the series, the 22-year-old Nebraska-born rookie provided the winner in Game 1 and again in Game 2 when he pounded home a rebound just 10 seconds into the third period for his third of the series and 12th of the playoffs.
“It’s crazy,” said Guentzel, who has an NHL rookie record five game-winning goals in the post-season. “You can’t even put into words what it feels, but we know the ultimate goal is two more wins and they’re going to be tough to get.”
Only if Rinne turns back into Rinne.
The 34-year-old spent the first three rounds of the playoffs helping carry Nashville to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Now he is the biggest reason the Predators head back to “Smashville” for Game 3 tomorrow reeling.
After giving up four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he allowed four more on 25 shots in Game 2. He was pulled when Evgeni Malkin ended Pittsburgh’s surge with his ninth of the playoffs 3 minutes, 28 seconds into the third period.
Rinne entered the series with a .947 save percentage in the post-season. Against Pittsburgh, it is at .777 and he remains winless in his career against the Penguins in games he has started.
“The limited chances they’ve had they’ve done a good job,” Rinne said. “Overall, these two games, like I said, it’s disappointing to be down 2-0, but we have to be feeling still positive with the way we played as a whole and creating chances.”
Asked twice afterward if he was committed to starting Rinne tomorrow, Laviolette stressed Rinne has been “terrific,” adding that there are plenty of things the Predators can do better in front of him, like stopping the odd-man rushes that allowed the Penguins to take charge.
“There’s a stretch they’re able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic, and that swung two games in their favor,” Laviolette said.
Pontus Aberg scored the lone goal for the Predators , who were once again undone by a sudden barrage from the NHL’s highest-scoring team, though they have not lost faith in Rinne.
Defenseman P.K. Subban said the team was “extremely confident” about the prospect of going home, where the Predators are 7-1 during the playoffs.
“We’re going to win the next game and then we’ll see what happens from there,” Subban said.
“When we score one, we don’t stop,” Malkin said. “We want to score more. The first shift in the third period, we score. We want more. It’s our game. Never stop.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but