Penguins use big third period for 2-0 lead in Cup finals

After two periods of Game 2 on Wednesday night, the Predators should've felt confident about their chances of evening their Stanley Cup final series against Pittsburgh.

Now, if the Penguins can stay on the right side of history - 45 of 50 teams that have had a 2-0 lead in a Stanley Cup final have gone on to win the series, a 90-percent certainty - Guentzel figures to join Malkin, Crosby and co-owner Mario Lemieux as Penguins players who've won the prestigious award.

And maybe, so much for the Nashville Predators unlikely assault on the Stanley Cup.

Guentzel scored twice Wednesday night and his second goal, 10 seconds into the third period, broke up a close game and led the Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Nashville Predators at the PPG Paints Arena. Jackson is scheduled to perform at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at Fifth and Broadway. The rookie from Omaha, Nebraska, leads the playoffs with 12 goals and has scored the past three goals for Pittsburgh.

He's only two points (19) from matching the rookie mark for points in a single playoff, now with 19 points in 21 games.

There went Pekka Rinne, headed down the visiting tunnel and into the dark, leaving his stick on the carpet and a two-game series deficit on the ice.

Even if you subtract the own goals, the Preds' star stopper is really fighting the puck. "But we knew we had a talented team, and we knew our defence was as good as anybody's, it was just going to be a matter of time".

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. At the very least, he needs to go to a place where Jake Guentzel doesn't exist.

Wilson was credited with his third of the playoffs just over 3 minutes later when a centering pass caromed off Nashville's Vernon Fiddler and by Rinne. The group failed to score on six chances, mustering just two shots on goal in 10:58.

"We do it as a group", said Sanders.

"We're more concerned about where the series is", Predators captain Mike Fisher said.

Two games, yes, but two of the most spectacularly bad goaltending performances in recent memory.

Rinne is now winless in five career starts at Pittsburgh and looking to change his luck in Nashville where the Predators are 7-1 in the playoffs.

"We are who we are", said coach Peter Laviolette. "For 5½ periods, we like what we did".

There were no goals scored in the second period but the Penguins made up for that in the third by scoring three times in the first three minutes and 28 seconds to take a 4-1 lead and send Rinne to the bench to watch backup Saros finish it off.

Penguins center Nick Bonino has left the game after blocking a shot from the Predators' P.K. Subban in the first period.

Why the NHL doesn't take charge of the Stanley Cup final is a professional mystery, the way the other professional leagues take over their championship events. Sensing their opponent was on the ropes and bleeding, the Penguins delivered the knockout punch 15 seconds afterwards on a shot that went crossbar-down from Evgeni Malkin. This culminated in a fight between Malkin and Nashville blueliner PK Subban late in the third period.

It was a scene hard to imagine through the first two taut and chippy periods. The Swede dangled the puck around Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and beat Matt Murray at 12:57 of the first period. For the Penguins to be able to skate out onto the ice in a big game with the confidence of having that kind of calm presence in their net is a huge advantage for them. Mired in an eight-game goal drought heading into the series, the 22-year-old Nebraskan provided the victor in Game 1 and again in Game 2 when he pounded home a rebound just 10 seconds into the third for his third of the series and 12th of the playoffs. It's Guentzel's sense around the net that stands out - despite his 5-foot-11 size, he has the grit to match the finesse that makes him a threat from anywhere in the offensive zone.

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