PITTSBURGH — The Penguins overwhelmed the Nashville Predators 6-0 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 Stanley Cup Final lead and put them one win away from repeating as champions. They could become the first team in 19 years — since the Detroit Red Wings — to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Here is how it all went down:
First-period barrage: The Penguins jumped on the Predators from the start with forecheck pressure and two quick goals (Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust). The Predators couldn't get the puck out of their zone and failed to generate zone time until the middle of the period. But just as the Predators started to gain some structure in their game, Evgeni Malkin wristed a top-shelf shot past goalie Pekka Rinne late in the first period. At one point, Penguins held a 6-1 shot advantage. The period ended 9-9.
Goalie change: Rinne, who endured a rough start to the series but found his rhythm the prior two games, was pulled for Juuse Saros to start the second period. Rinne allowed three goals on nine shots. This move was done not as an indictment on Rinne, but to try to jumpstart the Predators. It didn't work. Saros gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.
Penguins stars rise up: Pittsburgh got contributions from their most important players: Phil Kessel (goal, two assists), Evgeni Malkin (goal, assist) and Sidney Crosby (three assists). Only five players were held off the scoresheet for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 24 saves.
Subban the center of attention: Subban was the target of fans' hatred all night. He also finished a minus-two, the first time he was a minus player since May 14 against the Anaheim Ducks. He also took two penalties, the first of which was a matching minor with Crosby, who had punched him in the head repeatedly. He also got called for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third period as tensions started to boil over for the Predators. But Subban still finished atop the possession leaderboard for the Predators.
Home ice domination: No team has lost at home in this series. Pittsburgh has outscored the Predators 15-4 on home ice, while the Predators have outscored the Penguins 9-2 in Nashville.
What's next: Game 6 in Sunday night in Nashville, where the Predators are 9-1 in the playoffs.
Jimmy Hascup, USA Today Sports