Nashville 4, Pittsburgh 1 – series tied 2-2
GAUDREAU HELPS PREDATORS EVEN STANLEY CUP FINAL AT 2-2
The Predators scored three unanswered goals, including the go-ahead tally by Frederick Gaudreau at 3:45 of the second period, to even the Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece. Gaudreau, who signed with the Predators as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and made his NHL debut Oct. 22 vs. PIT, has registered each of his first three career goals (regular season and playoffs, 15 GP) in the Stanley Cup Final. Elias says that only one other player in NHL history scored each of his first three career goals (regular season and playoffs) in the Stanley Cup Final: Chicago’s John Harms in 1944 vs. MTL (3-0—3).
Gaudreau potted the decisive goal for the second straight contest, following his winner at 6:33 of the second period in Game 3. Rookies have accounted for all four game-winning goals thus far in the Stanley Cup Final (Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel has the other two). No other Final has featured four winning goals from rookies since the NHL took control of the Stanley Cup in 1926-27. Gaudreau became just the third rookie to collect consecutive game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Final since the NHL took sole possession of the trophy in 1926-27 – and the second to do so in this series (following Guentzel). The other: Roy Conacher, who notched the winner for the Bruins in Games 3, 4 and 5 in 1939 vs. TOR.
Rookies have totaled nine of the 24 total goals thus far in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final (37.5%) – Guentzel (4), Gaudreau (3), Pontus Aberg (1) and Scott Wilson (1). Elias notes that it is the highest combined rookie total in the Final since the NHL took control of the Stanley Cup in 1926-27, breaking the old record of eight in 1973, 1980 and 1981.
The Predators became the 13th team to even the Stanley Cup Final at 2-2 after falling behind 2-0 in the series (out of 51 total instances since the format went to best-of-seven in 1939). Four of the prior 12 clubs went on to win the Stanley Cup: 1966 MTL, 1971 MTL, 2009 PIT and 2011 BOS.
Pekka Rinne stopped 23 shots, including all 18 he faced after the opening period, to help the Predators improve to a League-best 9-1 at home in the playoffs (+19 goal differential; 34-15). Rinne, who has started all 10 of Nashville’s home postseason games, owns a 1.44 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in those contests. He has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of those 10 games. The Kempele, Finland, native earned his 36th career playoff win (68 GP), tying Antti Niemi (67 GP) for the most in NHL history by a Finnish-born goaltender.
Home teams have won 37 of the past 53 games in the Stanley Cup Final dating to 2009 (69.8%), including all four this year.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby snapped a 12-game goal drought in the Stanley Cup Final (dating to 2009) to move into sole possession of 20th place on the NHL’s all-time playoff points list (57-104—161 in 146 GP) . . . Predators captain Mike Fisher collected one assist while celebrating his 37th birthday . . . Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (22 SV) suffered consecutive losses for the first time in his postseason career (30 GP; 7-1 following a loss) . . . Twelve different Predators found the scoresheet . . . ICYMI: The NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee issued a pair of rule recommendations.
* Information provided via NHL Press Release