Pittsburgh Penguins win a wild game 1 over the Nashville Predators. The Penguins were up 3-0 before Nashville roared back. But in the end, Pittsburgh took the first game 5-3 on a wild night.
Predators start quick, goal disallowed
It was the visitors who dominated the game early on, registering the game's first five shots. Keeping the puck away from the defending champions and applying offensive pressure, it appeared Nashville would be rewarded with a goal when P.K. Subban fired a wrist shot past a screened Matt Murray.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan immediately challenged the call and after consulting with the war room in Toronto and looking at several different angles, it was ruled Filip Forsberg's skate was off the ice as the puck crossed the blue line, negating the goal, rendering the play offsides and changing the game completely.
Penguins score three to take command
The overturned goal seemed to spark Pittsburgh and after penalties to Calle Jarnkrok for interference and former Penguin James Neal for cross-checking, the Penguins scored at the end of the two-man advantage.
After a Predators turnover behind their own net, Sidney Crosby worked the puck along the left boards to Trevor Daley. Daley found Evgeni Malkin from the top of the right faceoff circle and his blast beat Nashville goalie Peka Rinne to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
The lead was doubled 65 seconds later when more good board work from the defending champions resulted in Chris Kunitz finding Jake Guentzel, who found Conor Sheary on nifty cross-ice passing, the forward tapping into a wide-open net and suddenly the Penguins, outplayed for most of the game, were ahead 2-0.
A bit of good fortune gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead. An awkward one-handed shot by Nick Bonino was deflected away by Rinne, but the puck bounced off of Mattias Ekholm's leg past his goalkeeper and the Penguins had scored three goals on five shots in a span of 4:25.
Undisciplined play gets Predators back into the game
A sloppy start to the second period provided Nashville with a way back into the game. Olli Maatta was called for interference, but Pittsburgh killed that penalty off. Ian Cole was whistled for roughing less than four minutes later and this time, Nashville took advantage, Ryan Ellis' long shot getting past Murray after being screened by Viktor Arvidsson.
The Penguins were held shotless in the second period, the first timee in Finals history a team went through a single period without a shot. Making matters worse, Malkin was called for slashing on Subban at 9:36 of the third period and 30 seconds later, Roman Josi's shot hit Colton Sissons in the leg, bouncing past Murray and the lead was cut to 3-2.
Amazingly, the game was tied after Austin Watson won a battle for the puck behind the Pittsburgh net just after a Nashville penalty had expired and he spotted an onrushing Frederick Gaudreau, his first ever goal in the NHL tying the game with 6:31 to play in regulation.
Guentzel rescues Penguins late, Bonino empty-netter provides final margin
Without a shot for 37:09, the Penguins took the lead after Jake Guentzel's rocket beat Rinne short-side off the rush, snapping an eight-game goalless streak and Bonino added his second of the game into the empty Nashville net and the Penguins survived despite recording the fewest shots on goal (12) ever by a winning team in a Stanley Cup Finals game.
Guentzel's goal was his 10th of the playoffs, second-most in playoff history by an American-born player in one playoff year, trailing only Jeremy Roenick, who had 11.
This is the first series that Nashville has trailed in the playoffs and the first time the Predators lost Game 1, having defeated Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim in their respective series openers.
Murray made 23 ssaves for the Penguins while Rinne only recorded eight for the Predators. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Puck drop is scheduled for after 8 PM ET.