Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals began in Pittsburgh on Memorial Day. The Nashville Predators have been cruising through the playoffs. This goes back to their first round sweep of the power house Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville is the “Cinderella” of the season, advancing to the Cup Final after being the 16th seed out of 16 playoff teams. Their opponent is on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Pittsburgh Penguins finished second overall in the entire league and have their eyes set on a repeat this postseason. Now, this does not make Nashville huge underdogs in the series because they have been playing extremely well and are a good overall team.
Nashville silenced the home crowd relatively quickly with a goal from P.K. Subban. Unfortunately for the Preds, the goal was challenged for offsides and was controversially overturned. Filip Forsberg entered the zone and it was hard to determine whether his back skate remained in contact with the ice. If his foot came off the ice as the puck was already in the offensive zone, it would be ruled offside. One of the biggest talking points of the NHL this season was how many people are unhappy with the newly implemented challenges. If something is not 100% clear and definitive, then the call that was originally made on the ice should stand. This was not the case Monday night. They still overturned the call and took the goal away from the Predators.
A closer look. 👀
Shortly after the overturned goal, the Predators were hit with two minor penalties on the same play. This led to a full two minutes of a two-man advantage for the Penguins. Regardless of how good Nashville’s defense has been as of late, it is hard for anyone to kill off a five-on-three for that long. Evgeni Malkin scored and the Pens went up 1-0. The momentum had completely shifted in Pittsburgh’s favor starting with the challenge. This was a classic case of “When it rains, it pours” for the Predators. By the time the first period ended, they were staring at a 3-0 deficit.
The second period is when things started turning around for Nashville. Whatever coach Peter Laviolette said to his guys in the locker room must have worked. They came out with plenty of energy. Ryan Ellis scored a power play goal to get the Predators on the board in the second period. In the third period, Nashville was able to tie the game after goals from Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau. The Predators kept the Penguins from even recording a shot on goal for thirty seven minutes of game time. However, when the Pens finally got their next shot on goal, it went right by Pekka Rinne to retake the lead. This goal by Jake Guentzel was shortly followed up by an empty net dagger from Nick Bonino.
The Predators outshot the Penguins in the game by more than double. The Penguins finished the game with just twelve shots on target and still somehow came away with a win.
The Penguins' 12 shots in Game 1 are the fewest in a Stanley Cup Final win since shots on goal became official in 1957-58 (via @EliasSports) pic.twitter.com/6ritJ1okSO
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 30, 2017
It is inexcusable to lose a game in which you held your opponent without a shot in over half the regulation time. To succeed going forward, Nashville hopes to see the Pekka Rinne they had earlier in the playoffs. As coach Peter Laviolette pointed out, his players played great, but they just hate the result. The Predators will look to bounce back in Game 2 before they head back home to Nashville.