Sidney Crosby is looking to win his third Stanley Cup and surpass Mario Lemieux for most favored son status in Pittsburgh. This will be Crosby and company’s fourth Stanley Cup Finals appearance and the Pittsburgh Penguins have won it all in two of those three tries. They will look to be the first back-to-back winners in nearly two decades. For the second straight season, the Penguins will be facing a team making their Stanley Cup debut in the Nashville Predators.
Don’t miss the action on the ice from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, May 29, 2017. Catch every moment of the game live on NBC. We will have NHL playoff hockey odds at BookMaker.eu for every Stanley Cup Finals game.
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Pittsburgh and Nashville met twice in the regular season with the home team winning both times. The Predators pulled out a 5-1 win over the Penguins on October 22, while Pittsburgh won 4-2 on January 31. These teams have seen a lot of shake-up in their rosters since then due to injuries.
Matchup to Watch
Pittsburgh’s power play was lights out in the Ottawa series and proved to be one of the difference makers. It’s almost unfair for the Penguins to go on the man advantage with as much talent as they have on offense. They consistently make other teams pay with their ability to spread the ice and find the open man.
From Game 3 to Game 7, the Penguins went 6-12 on the power play. Over the course of the series the Penguins were 3-1 in games where they scored a power play goal.
Nashville has one of the best defenses in the league and it has shown on the penalty kill. The Predators have only given up three power play goals in their last two series against Anaheim and St. Louis. That has been needed since seven of those 12 games were decided by one goal.
Player to Watch
Pekka Rinne finally showed that he is somewhat human in the series against Anaheim. After dominating proceedings against Chicago and St. Louis, Rinne had some issues against the Ducks. He gave up at least three goals three times in the series and ended the series with a more believable .925 save percentage.
Rinne’s defense goes down and blocks a lot of shots for him and that has gotten the Predators out of a lot of jams. Their top two pairs of defensemen have been pretty solid and should be able to somewhat limit Pittsburgh offensively.
Pittsburgh has already knocked out two Vezina Trophy finalists so Rinne will have his work cut out for him in this game and series.
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The Penguins have had some big problems on the defensive end. With Kris Letang out, everyone has received a battlefield promotion, but there have been some struggles.
Olli Maatta was terrible during the Ottawa series and almost cost the Penguins the Prince of Wales Trophy. He missed assignments or turned the puck over in his zone time and time again and Pittsburgh can’t be too confident in him. However, they have to play him with Justin Schultz and Trevor Daley still banged up and unable to play big chunks of minutes.
For Nashville, someone needs to step up on offense. The best two candidates in this regard are Filip Forsberg and James Neal. Forsberg is leading the team in goals and points this postseason and is quick enough to slip past defenders on rushes. Neal provides a veteran presence and Penguins fans will remember his goal scorers touch.
Nashville has had a little more rest than Pittsburgh. The Penguins will be coming off of a double-overtime Game 7 and have now played two straight seven-game series to reach the finals. They are due for a letdown and that will lead to a Nashville victory in Game 1.
NHL Playoff Odds: Predators 3, Penguins 1
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