After watching Game 2, a phrase that my Dad who served in the Army for 20 years used to say popped into my head: SSDD (Same...er, Stuff...Different Day). The Pittsburgh Penguins took home a 4-1 win Wednesday in almost the exact same fashion as their Game 1 win.
To wit: for the second straight game, we saw a three-goal period for the Penguins that included a goal off of a Predators player, a 5-on-3 goal, AND featured a goal disallowed from a review! It was a rather chaotic game, encapsulated in this bizarre scene shown during the pregame (although it happened during the West final), which also happens to be the greatest gif in hockey history.
The funny thing about Game 2 is that it started almost completely the opposite of Game 1. The Predators took an early penalty but later got a 5-on-3 power play against the Pens in a first period that saw five total penalties called including a crosscheck by Chris Kunitz to the back of P.K. Subban’s head, behind the play, against the boards, that could lead to a suspension. Among all of the chaos, the Preds also opened scoring first - and this time it wasn’t overturned - with an absolute danglefest from Pontus Aberg.
From there it was almost all Penguins, as they drew five straight penalties and scored four straight goals. The first came from Jake Guentzel who threw a rebound towards Pekka Rinne, which inexplicably went in. The gap between Rinne’s glove and pants was about one puck’s-width wide, but it goes to show it’s never a bad idea to throw a put to the net.
It was tied at the second intermission, but that didn’t last long. The Penguins scored just 10 seconds into the period when Guentzel scored his second of the game off of a perfectly-placed rebound. It was Guentzel’s 12th goal of the playoffs, which is the most of any American-born rookie in playoff history and just two behind Dino Ciccarelli’s all-time rookie record of 14.
Just three minutes later Scott Wilson scored when he tipped a puck that then bounced off of the Predators’ Vernon Fiddler and past Rinne. It only took 15 more seconds for Evgeni Malkin to widen the Pens’ lead to 4-1 after a rip that went glove side top shelf. After Malkin’s goal, Rinne’s night was over and Juuse Saros was called in to finish up the game between the pipes.
Rinne had another night to forget, now 0-5 all time in Pittsburgh with a .778 save percentage in the series - which is actually an improvement (!) from where it was on Monday. Needless to say, the Preds have no chance if he keeps playing like this. Malkin and Guentzel, meanwhile, are in a full blown foot race for the Conn Smythe. Guentzel now leads the playoffs with 12 goals and 19 points (also an American rookie playoff record). Malkin has nine goals and leads the playoffs in points with 26.
The Pens now head to Nashville with a 2-0 series lead, but what is important for the Predators fans is that a series never really gets interesting until you lose one at home. The next game will be Saturday, June 3rd at 8:00 pm at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.