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Penguins crush Predators to take 3-2 lead in Stanley Cup
PITTSBURGH  — The night started with a catfish throw. It ended with haymaker after haymaker — both literal and proverbial — from the ever resilient Pittsburgh Penguins. The defending champions provided an emphatic and repeated reminder of what makes them such a difficult out in a 6-0 demolition of the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-2 lead. Pittsburgh will have a chance to become the first franchise in 19 years to win back to back championships when the series shifts back to Nashville for Game 6 on Sunday night. “Understand that we’re going to play a desperate team,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after collecting three assists. “Nothing’s done yet and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of ourselves.” So do the Predators, who can’t get back to Smashville fast enough. “I don’t know if anybody shakes off a game like that that quickly,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Nobody feels good leaving the building playing the way we did.” Boxscore: Pittsburgh 6, Nashville 0 Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin scored during a first-period barrage against Pekka Rinne that sent the Nashville goaltender to the bench for the rest of the night, all the good mojo he created during a pair of wins in Games 3 and 4 gone. Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel — just as linemate Malkin predicted — and 35-year-old playoff newbie Ron Hainsey also scored for the Penguins. Crosby’s eventful night included becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Final, a two-minute roughing penalty for trying to dribble Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban’s head on the ice near the end of the first period and an flip of a water bottle onto the ice during play. “It’s just one of those things it slipped out of my hand,” Crosby said. “I had a gesture with my hand and before I knew it the thing was flying across the ice. I know you’re not allowed to do that, so I’m not going to start doing it in the Stanley Cup Final.” Matt Murray bounced back from so-so performances during Pittsburgh’s lost weekend in Nashville to make 24 stops while also benefiting from a dominant performance by the guys in front of him. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as he has for each of the last two springs when his team finds itself in a tight spot, pushed all the right buttons again. He stuck with Murray, reunited Sheary with Crosby and Jake Guentzel, and stressed his team needed to play with urgency but not desperation after the Predators rallied to tie the series by outscoring the Penguins 9-2 during two wins in Nashville. It took all of 91 seconds for Pittsburgh to get its swagger back. Just 91 seconds after a Nashville fan flipped a catfish onto the PPG Paints Arena ice — a move that came shortly before a three-goal outburst by Nashville in Game 1 — Schultz powered home a slapshot to end an 0-for-15 power-play skid. “We were on our toes tonight,” Schultz said. “We were really jumping and playing our game, playing fast. It all started with that start and got us going for the rest of the game.” Rust made it 2-0 just 6:43 into the game with a nasty backhand flip over Rinne’s glove. Then things got chippy (and a little weird) for the game’s best player. Crosby and Subban became tangled up behind the Nashville net late in the first period, with Crosby ended up on top of Subban. Crosby then started hitting Subban in the head repeatedly, eventually drawing a roughing penalty while Subban — who quipped that Crosby was complaining about Subban’s bad breath during a Game 3 exchange — went off for holding. “I’m not an official so I’m not going to judge what’s over the line and what’s not,” Subban said. Malkin ripped a wrist shot over Rinne’s glove on the ensuing 4-on-4 to make it 3-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first. Rinne gave way to Juuse Saros at the start of the second period after stopping just six of nine shots, continuing his wildly uneven play. Rinne stopped 50 of 52 shots he faced back home in Games 3 and 4. He’s stopped just 34 of 45 in Pittsburgh during the series. Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017 Penguins head home upbeat despite 0-fer in Nashville June 6, 2017 Carrie Underwood puts off birthday present for Predators’ captain Mike Fisher June 5, 2017 Predators beat Penguins, 4-1, even Stanley Cup Final at 2-2 June 5, 2017 Charles Barkley takes up Gary Bettman’s invitation to Stanley Cup Final June 5, 2017 Nashville Predators leaning heavily on defense corps against Penguins Saros hardly fared any better. Sheary took a pretty feed from Crosby and sent it by Saros 1:19 into the second to pus [...]
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Predators beat Penguins, 4-1, even Stanley Cup Final at 2-2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Frederick Gaudreau sure is doing his best to earn his own locker with the Nashville Predators with a Stanley Cup Final debut for the ages. An undrafted free agent playing just his sixth postseason game, Gaudreau scored the go-ahead goal 3:45 into the second period and Pekka Rinne made 23 often-spectacular saves as the Predators beat the Penguins 4-1 on Monday night to even the series at 2-2. It’s now a best-of-three sprint to the Stanley Cup, and Nashville is riding a wave of momentum after outscoring the defending champions 9-2 in the Games 3 and 4 of their Final debut. Gaudreau, a 24-year-old rookie, only has a chair in the Predators’ locker room, but he now is the second player in NHL history to score his first three career goals in a Stanley Cup Final, joining Johnny Harms with the 1944 Blackhawks. Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, which improved to 9-1 at home. Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017 Penguins head home upbeat despite 0-fer in Nashville June 6, 2017 Carrie Underwood puts off birthday present for Predators’ captain Mike Fisher June 5, 2017 Charles Barkley takes up Gary Bettman’s invitation to Stanley Cup Final June 5, 2017 Nashville Predators leaning heavily on defense corps against Penguins June 4, 2017 Sidney Crosby has no time for P.K. Subban’s games in Stanley Cup Final “We were in a tough hole against a really good team, came home and took care of the home games with the help of all our great fans,” Rinne said. “It’s a great feeling. We played two really good games.” Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in the series after not getting a shot on goal in Game 3. The goal was his first in the Stanley Cup Final since June 4, 2009 — a span of 12 games. The goal came after he was held without a shot for only the fifth time in his career in the playoffs. The Penguins now have lost two straight for the second time this postseason. They also lost Games 5 and 6 against Washington. Goalie Matt Murray lost consecutive games for the first time in his young career. Game 5 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Nashville tapped country singer Dierks Bentley as the latest to sing the national anthem, while country singer Jason Aldean waved the towel to rev up the crowd. Former NBA star and TV commentator Charles Barkley also was on hand, accepting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s invitation to watch in person. Rain most of Monday kept the crowd outside from reaching the more than 50,000 who turned Saturday night for the first Stanley Cup Final game in Tennessee. Enough people turned out to fill up Broadway for three blocks with three giant TV screens, even with Nashville opening up a downtown amphitheater for fans to watch. After the anthem, two catfish and one stuffed penguin hit the ice despite Nashville coach Peter Laviolette’s video plea earlier Monday asking fans not to throw anything. Craig Smith, who had two of Nashville’s first six shots, ricocheted a puck off Murray’s pads that Jarnkrok tapped in at 14:51 to start the fans yelling. Pittsburgh lost a challenge for goalie interference. Then Crosby, held without a shot for only the fifth time in the postseason in his career, tied it up for Pittsburgh on a breakaway. He skated in on Rinne, holding the puck before scoring behind the goalie’s leg just 66 seconds later for his eighth goal and 24th point of the playoffs. Rinne kept it tied in the early minutes of the second first with a stop of Jake Guentzel before a big save on Chris Kunitz on a breakaway. Play was underway when the horn sounded, and officials reviewed a play and ruled Gaudreau’s wraparound attempt slid the puck just over the line before Murray stopped it. Referee Dan O’Halloran announced it as a goal, giving Nashville a 2-1 lead 3:45 into the second. Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://www.denverpost.com/wp-content/plugins/polldaddy/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader')); “I heard it on the bench that it was possibly in the net,” Gaudreau said. “I wasn’t certain. When I heard the horn, I sort of thought it was in.” Crosby had another breakaway nearly midway through the period, and Rinne stopped him not once, but twice. Then the goalie slid to his right stopping Guentzel with an assist from Nashville defenseman Roman Josi. Arvidsson made it a 3-1 Nashville lead with his first goal since the end of the first round. James Neal started the play, getting the puck to captain Mike Fisher who fed the puck up to Arvidsson while fall [...]
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Penguins head home upbeat despite 0-fer in Nashville
PITTSBURGH — The goals that came so easily to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final — the ones that arrived in bunches and seemed to signal an emphatic end to Pekka Rinne’s spectacular playoff run — have disappeared. Across six periods in Nashville, the NHL’s highest-scoring team managed to beat Rinne just twice as the Predators rallied to tie the series. Yet Penguins coach Mike Sullivan hardly seems frustrated heading into Game 5 on Thursday night back home in Pittsburgh. Sullivan is 7-0 in series with the Penguins, and the way he sees it, his team’s inability to solve Rinne in Games 3 and 4 had little to do with lack of effort or opportunities. It had everything to do with a remarkable performance by the 34-year-old goaltender. Where do you want to start? With Rinne’s no-look left pad stop on Jake Guentzel early in the second period of a tie game on Monday night? Maybe the one about a minute later when Rinne denied Chris Kunitz on a breakaway? Or maybe the diving blocker stop on Guentzel just before the midway point, the one that preserved Nashville’s lead on the way to a 4-1 victory? Sullivan understands it’s easy to look at the result and be discouraged. That’s not his job. The coach who has made “play the right way” part of the franchise’s lexicon is more focused on the process. The Penguins didn’t produce much in Games 1 and 2 and somehow won going away. They “got to their game” (another of Sullivan’s favorite mantras) repeatedly in Game 4 only to lose. It’s hockey. It happens. “We believe that we have some guys that are due to score some goals here,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “They’ve had some high-quality chances, and the puck hasn’t gone in the net for the last couple of games. We believe if we continue to try to do the right things out there, we’ll score.” Game 4 marked the sixth time in their last 11 games the Penguins have scored just one goal, compared to just twice in 24 playoff games last spring. Pittsburgh has survived anyway thanks in part to a resilience that has been their hallmark under Sullivan. When limited to one goal during the 2016 postseason, they won the following game. When the Penguins had just three goals during the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa last month, they scored 10 over the next two to take control. “It just comes down to burying your chances,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who picked up his first goal of the series in Game 4. Something the Penguins did more than anybody during the regular season when it led the NHL in scoring. Pittsburgh is averaging 3.0 goals per game in the playoffs, the same as the Predators. It’s not a coincidence they’re the last two teams standing, both two wins away from a championship. What the Penguins are saying now sounds an awful lot like what the Predators were saying after coming up empty in Pittsburgh to start the final. Nashville was every bit the defending champ’s equal in the opening two games only to be undone by a pair of dominant bursts by the Penguins. The Predators weren’t shaken then, much like the Penguins aren’t shaken now. “I know it’s a nasty hole to be in,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday. “But we really liked the way we played in Game 1. We thought we played a real competitive game in Game 2. Could have had results in both those games.” Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017 Carrie Underwood puts off birthday present for Predators’ captain Mike Fisher June 5, 2017 Predators beat Penguins, 4-1, even Stanley Cup Final at 2-2 June 5, 2017 Charles Barkley takes up Gary Bettman’s invitation to Stanley Cup Final June 5, 2017 Nashville Predators leaning heavily on defense corps against Penguins June 4, 2017 Sidney Crosby has no time for P.K. Subban’s games in Stanley Cup Final While Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen said there are no moral victories during the postseason, the way the Penguins were able to generate odd-man rushes and stretch the ice were encouraging. They got the puck everywhere it needed to go, just not in the net. Though that style also generated opportunities for the Predators at the other end, don’t expect Pittsburgh to try and rein it in. That’s now how they got to the cusp off back-to-back titles. “If anything we just need to press a little more,” Cullen said. Well, everything except the panic button. Though Sullivan experimented liberally with his line combinations — something he frequently does when trying to break the Penguins out of a funk — there appear to be no plans to make a change in net. Asked twice Tuesday if he planned on reev [...]
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Colorado Eagles sweep South Carolina Stingrays to win first Kelly Cup
Shoot your shot. After five years of early-round playoff frustration as members of the ECHL, the Colorado Eagles’ first trip to the Kelly Cup finals was a sweeping success. The @ColoradoEagles are the 2017 Kelly Cup Champions!! pic.twitter.com/wuX5zbv7WK — ECHL (@ECHL) June 6, 2017 “From being here from Day One, this was a special group. We did a lot of great things this year, and had some adversity,” said Matt Register, who was named series MVP. “A 17-game win streak, that was a huge accomplishment for this team. It was a special group. We were never out of hockey games. We battled right to the end. “We just wanted it more.” And the Eagles got it in the form of a 2-1 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays on Monday, completing a sweep in the championship series. Goals from Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Luke Salazar put the team in front, and strong play in net from Lukas Hafner made the lead stick the final 42:15 of the game to produce a fourth one-goal victory. Read the full story at ReporterHerald.com. [...]
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Carrie Underwood puts off birthday present for Predators’ captain Mike Fisher
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mike Fisher’s birthday present will have to wait. Country music superstar Carrie Underwood said she didn’t get Fisher — her husband and the Nashville Predators’ captain — anything for his 37th birthday on Monday. She’s hoping Fisher can celebrate his birthday on another day — with the Stanley Cup if the Predators beat Pittsburgh for the championship. “I didn’t get him anything,” Underwood said in an interview on NBC with the two teams tied at 1 following the first period. “I’m terrible.” Underwood said when she performs, there’s no anxiety. When she watches her husband play hockey, she feels much differently. “I’m way more nervous than I ever would be for myself,” she said. Related ArticlesJune 5, 2017 Predators beat Penguins, 4-1, even Stanley Cup Final at 2-2 June 5, 2017 Charles Barkley takes up Gary Bettman’s invitation to Stanley Cup Final June 5, 2017 Nashville Predators leaning heavily on defense corps against Penguins June 4, 2017 Sidney Crosby has no time for P.K. Subban’s games in Stanley Cup Final June 3, 2017 Pekka Rinne, Predators bounce back, beat Penguins in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final [...]
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Sidney Crosby has no time for P.K. Subban’s games in Stanley Cup Final
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — P.K. Subban says ask the Pittsburgh Penguins if he’s getting under their skin. The All-Star defenseman only knows he apparently needs to work on his breath on the ice and loves the challenge of helping shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And he loves gamesmanship. Crosby isn’t in the mood to play if it doesn’t involve his stick and a puck. No, the Pittsburgh captain insists he did not complain about Subban’s breath in Game 3, saying Subban made that up. “He likes the attention and things like that so I mean if he wants to make stuff up, … what can I do?” Crosby said Sunday. The Stanley Cup Final has some bad blood brewing, and the best-of-seven series for the NHL championship has the makings of becoming a battle royale. The defending champs a chance for a sweep Saturday night when the Predators scored five straight goals in a 5-1 rout of the Pens, winning the first Cup Final game in the state of Tennessee. Now the Predators want to tie it in Game 4 on Monday night. They are 8-1 at home this postseason, and Subban made it clear he expects Nashville fans to find a way to crank the volume up even higher Monday night. “I know there’ll be a lot more energy if you can imagine that … which will be pretty awesome,” Subban said. The Penguins have bigger issues than talk of bad breath, and their frustration bubbled over late Saturday night as they racked up 10 penalties for 44 minutes night. That included Chris Kunitz, Patric Hornqvist and Matt Cullen each getting a 10-minute misconduct all in the final five minutes of the loss. Crosby has yet to score a goal in this series, and both he and Evgeni Malkin were held without a shot Saturday night in the same game for the first time in their star-studded careers. It’s the fifth time Crosby, with 160 career playoff points and 23 points this postseason, had been held without a shot and third this spring. It was the eighth time Malkin, with his NHL-best 26 points this postseason, was held without a shot. Malkin hasn’t gone two games without a shot in the same postseason since his rookie year, while Washington did it to Crosby April 29 and May 1. “We had chances,” Crosby said. “We just got to hit the net. They blocked some. I think it’s just a matter of winning those battles too and finding ways to get to the net. You got to hit the net, so let’s start there.” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby and Malkin simply command a lot of attention, and he doesn’t want to interfere with their instincts on when to pass or shoot. Sullivan did see chances for both to throw the puck at the net. “Their numbers speak for themselves,” Sullivan said. “They’ve produced consistently for this team all year long and throughout the course of these playoffs. There’s no doubt that we believe they will continue that.” The Predators have outshot the Penguins in each game so far with Pittsburgh taking a 2-0 series lead with quick scoring bursts. They’ve also smothered the NHL’s best scoring team even when the Pens have the man advantage, allowing just four shots in 13 penalties killed. Pittsburgh has just one power-play goal and was 0 of 3 with the man advantage in Game 4, and Malkin said he has not had room to work. “I have puck like one second, they jump to me,” Malkin said. Related ArticlesJune 5, 2017 Nashville Predators leaning heavily on defense corps against Penguins June 3, 2017 Pekka Rinne, Predators bounce back, beat Penguins in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final June 3, 2017 Nashville helps Predators’ celebrate history with 1st Stanley Cup Final June 2, 2017 P.K. Subban promises Predators will win Game 3 on home ice vs. Penguins June 1, 2017 Jake Guentzel climbing record book for Pittsburgh Penguins The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Penguins, but they are 13-2 in the playoffs coming off a loss under Sullivan. Goalie Matt Murray, who allowed five goals in the span of 15 shots, also has never lost when starting a game either after a Pittsburgh loss (9-0) or a playoff loss of his own (7-0). They also might get center Nick Bonino back. He tested his injured left foot and ankle by skating Sunday but said he remains day to day. Subban relishes playing against the man he calls the world’s best player in Crosby, and he also has plenty of help from fellow defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. “It’s our defense that’s going to win us games,” Subban said. “We know that, and we’re going to have to continue to be strong defensively to have success against this hockey club.” [...]
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Nashville Predators leaning heavily on defense corps against Penguins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Roman Josi downplays the production of the Nashville Predators’ defensemen as simply the product of their system. “Our system allows defensemen to jump on the play and make something happen in the offensive zone, too,” Josi said. “And our forwards (are) doing a great job getting pucks to us, and yeah, tipping pucks, getting screens from that, and our job is just to get the puck through.” Yes, the Nashville Predators lean on their defensemen not only to smother the NHL’s best attackers, but also to score in bunches. They combined for five points Saturday night to help Nashville pull within 2-1 of the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 4 is Monday night. Josi leads the unit with 14 points, followed by defensive partner Ryan Ellis with 12 and P.K. Subban with 11. Mattias Ekholm had a goal and an assist Saturday night for 10 points, making Nashville the third team in NHL history with four defensemen to reach double-digits in the same postseason, along with the 1984 Edmonton Oilers and 1993 Los Angeles Kings. On top of that, the Predators helped hold Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin without a shot on goal for the first time in their lengthy careers in the same playoff game. “Amazing, amazing job,” Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “I mean, they been doing that all playoffs long, so it’s obviously our backbone is our defense. And they do a tremendous job defensively and creating offense.” Justin K. Aller, Getty ImagesRoman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. When general manager David Poile started putting this expansion franchise together nearly 20 years ago, he focused on building from the goaltender out to the defense. Poile hired coach Peter Laviolette three years ago, and the coach brought in a system that allows everyone but the goalie to join the rush and try to score. The Predators tied for the league lead with 181 points from their defensemen this season, and their 50 points this postseason tops the NHL with 14 goals and 36 assists. The Penguins’ defense corps has nine goals with 41 points in the playoffs. Josi, who has six goals in these playoffs, had three points in the second period Saturday night with a goal and two assists. He became the first defenseman with three points in a period in a Stanley Cup Final game since Larry Murphy had three assists for Pittsburgh on May 23, 1991, against Minnesota. “As you can see by the way we play, our defensemen have the green light to add to the rush or lead the rush, take charge offensively in the offensive zone,” Laviolette said Sunday. “That kind of takes the restriction off of just playing on the blue line in the offensive zone.” The defensemen have helped Nashville outshoot Pittsburgh in each of the first three games. They’ve also stuck so closely to the Penguins that Pittsburgh went 37 minutes without a shot in Game 1. The Penguins also have managed just four shots on goal in 13 power plays in the series with just one goal with the man advantage. “They just skate themselves out of trouble,” Crosby said. “They don’t spend a lot of time in their end. So I think the times we do get the puck … we’ve got to challenge them and force them to play defense.” Related ArticlesJune 4, 2017 Sidney Crosby has no time for P.K. Subban’s games in Stanley Cup Final June 3, 2017 Pekka Rinne, Predators bounce back, beat Penguins in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final June 3, 2017 Nashville helps Predators’ celebrate history with 1st Stanley Cup Final June 2, 2017 P.K. Subban promises Predators will win Game 3 on home ice vs. Penguins June 1, 2017 Jake Guentzel climbing record book for Pittsburgh Penguins So far, Josi and Ellis have gone against Crosby often, with Subban and Ekholm hitting the ice against Malkin. Crosby has just three assists with no goal yet despite having 23 points this postseason. Malkin has two goals. “This coaching staff has never been one to take our team out of the flow to try to chase matchups,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “We believe in the group we have. We know they can play against anybody. When they’re at their best, regardless of who their opponent is, they’re going to have their hands full.” The Predators are 8-1 at home this postseason, while the Penguins are 13-2 in the playoffs coming off a loss under Sullivan. Goalie Matt Murray, who allowed five goals in the span of 15 shots, also has never lost when starting a game either after a Pittsburgh loss ( [...]
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Pekka Rinne, Predators bounce back, beat Penguins in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Predators coach Peter Laviolette heard all the questions and criticism of his Pekka Rinne after the goaltender’s struggles in the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh. Well, Laviolette never thought of switching goalies. A change of scenery helped Rinne and all his Nashville teammates as they dominated once again on their own ice for the biggest piece of franchise history yet. A victory in the Stanley Cup Final. Related ArticlesJune 3, 2017 Nashville helps Predators’ celebrate history with 1st Stanley Cup Final June 2, 2017 P.K. Subban promises Predators will win Game 3 on home ice vs. Penguins June 1, 2017 Jake Guentzel climbing record book for Pittsburgh Penguins May 31, 2017 Penguins take 2-0 Stanley Cup lead with win vs. Predators May 31, 2017 Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau scored 42 seconds apart in the second period, and the Predators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 Saturday night to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Rinne started and made 27 saves against a Pittsburgh team that continued to struggle on the power play and lacked the same zip they had in winning the first two games at home. “There was no decision,” Laviolette said of changing goalies. “He was terrific. I said that after Game 2. He’s been the backbone for our team. He’s been excellent. His game tonight was rock solid.” The Predators capped the biggest party in Nashville history with a victory that gave thousands of fans inside and outside of the arena reason to celebrate. Country star Keith Urban and wife, actress Nicole Kidman, were high-fiving inside the arena and they had plenty of company. Credit Rinne for coming through with a stingy performance and helping the Predators improve to 8-1 at home this postseason. The 6-foot-5 Finn looked so shaky in the first two games, giving up eight goals on just 36 shots. Laviolette benched him in the third period of Game 2 when Rinne gave up three goals in the first 3:28 of a 4-1 loss. Rinne said he changed nothing and knew he was playing all the time. Nashville fans did their best to lift his spirits by chanting his name in pre-game warm-ups. “Collectively we came into the locker room, and we were telling each other we’ve never seen anything like that,” Rinne said. BOX SCORE: Predators 5, Penguins 1 Josi also had two assists. James Neal, Craig Smith and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville as the Predators worked out some frustration against the Pens. “Like our team has done the whole playoffs against Chicago, St. Louis, Anaheim, we showed really good composure,” said Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban, who had predicted a win in Game 3. “We’re going to take that into the next game.” Game 4 is Monday night. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said he thought his Penguins gave up a couple of easy goals. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the result, but we also understand that this is a series,” Sullivan said. “Our guys, they’ve been through this. They can draw on their experience. We’re not going to let this certainly get us down. We’re going to learn from it, move by it and get ready for the next game.” Captain Sidney Crosby did not have a shot on goal, and neither did Evgeni Malkin. “Hopefully a game like this is something that’s a hard lesson,” Crosby said. “But we’ve got to make sure we’re better.” Jake Guentzel scored his 13th goal this postseason and fourth of this series for Pittsburgh and now is one off Dino Ciccarelli’s rookie record of 14 in 1981 for Minnesota. Guentzel, already with two game-winning goals in the series, put the Penguins up 1-0 on their second shot with a wrister off a rebound of Ian Cole that beat Rinne just 2:46 into the game. Rinne stopped the next 26 shots for the victory and the party continued into the night. Early on, Matt Murray extended his scoreless streak to 72:54 with the Pittsburgh goalie looking ready to notch his 21st playoff win. Then he gave up five goals in the span of 15 shots and the catfish watch was on. The Predators got it started with a three-goal flurry in the second. Josi scored his sixth goal off a slap shot at 5:51, tying it at 1-1 and finally giving nervous fans something to enjoy. Then Gaudreau, who scored his first career NHL goal in Game 1, scored 42 seconds later to put Nashville ahead with his wrister from the high slot, taking advantage of a screen by Penguins defenseman Ian Cole to beat Murray glove-side. Just after that go-ahead goal, the Penguins had a rush on Rinne, and the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist made back-to-back big saves. First, he stopped Phil Kessel’s wrister from the right circle. The rebound bounced bac [...]
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LoDo: A renaissance owed to Coors Field, urban pioneers and smart politics
More than a decade before the gates of Coors Field first opened to enthusiastic Rockies fans, the dark and dormant blocks of Denver’s old warehouse district already were preparing, slowly, for a rebirth. In the 1980s, artists, gallery owners, graphic designers and startup entrepreneurs who were among Lower Downtown’s urban pioneers pried the boards off warehouse windows and doors. Long-surviving establishments, from El Chapultepec jazz club on 20th Street to the Wazee Supper Club on 15th — beneath a rickety overhead viaduct — gave the place a blinkering pulse. That persistence dovetailed with a years-long preservation fight, risks taken by developers and forward-looking — sometimes controversial — decisions made by city leaders, including a young new mayor who had taken an interest in revitalizing that part of downtown. By 1995, when Coors Field debuted as the permanent home of Colorado’s Major League Baseball expansion team in its third year, LoDo was primed for a resurgence that would bring exponential growth in population and property values. The stadium provided the final spark. “In many ways, I think (Coors Field’s) impact on Lower Downtown has exceeded a lot of people’s expectations” — especially in its residential growth, said former Mayor Federico Peña, who took office in 1983 at age 36. He quickly elevated long-simmering efforts to attract a baseball team and, later, lobbied for the LoDo stadium site. Neighborhood lore portrays future mayor and governor John Hickenlooper and his fellow investors as pioneers for opening Wynkoop Brewing Co., the city’s first craft brewery, at 18th and Wynkoop streets in 1988. And they were. But eight years earlier, Joanne and Manny Salzman bought the four-story building next door on the cheap. The couple moved from their house on a quiet street off Colorado Boulevard after their youngest son went to college. They renovated the top floor as their home and rented out commercial spaces on the floors below. They became among LoDo’s first loft-dwellers. “We moved here because we were looking for a community that could protect and encourage artistic endeavors in a city that, at that time, didn’t have a community as strong as we thought it could,” recalled Joanne Salzman. She later would spend nearly two decades helping to maintain LoDo’s historic character on a design review board, but she recognizes that baseball changed the onetime arts enclave’s feel, for better or worse. The Rockies’ move to LoDo from their temporary home at Mile High Stadium — and the opening four years later of the Pepsi Center, across Speer Boulevard, for Denver’s professional basketball and hockey teams — did something important, neighborhood leaders and former city officials say: The sports venues brought throngs of people to a little-visited part of downtown that many suburbanites had perceived to be empty and unsafe. LoDo’s trickle of new loft-dwellers became a flood. Technology startups came to LoDo in droves, the bar and dance club scene took off, and new shops and restaurants opened. Look at LoDo now LoDo’s success has been stark and has spilled far beyond the compact boundaries of the official historic district, perhaps contributing to an exaggerated perception of its size. But the population growth even within its confines — generally from Wynkoop southeast to Market Street and Speer Boulevard northeast to 20th Street — is telling. A population of no more than 200 in the late 1980s ballooned to 2,410 by 2015, according to the Downtown Denver Partnership. Add the large-scale new apartment and condo buildings to the northeast that coalesced into the Ballpark neighborhood, and the rise-from-the-dirt Central Platte Valley between Union Station and the South Platte River, and that number approaches 12,000, the partnership says. Another measure of Coors Field’s impact: The value of all property in LoDo and near the stadium has grown three times faster since it opened than has the value of property in all of Denver, according to the city assessor’s records. In 1994, the aggregate land value estimated by the assessor’s office for the area stretching from roughly Larimer Square to Park Avenue and Wazee was $305 million. As of last June, it had risen to nearly $3.8 billion — an elevenfold increase in raw dollars, or a sixfold surge after accounting for inflation. That excludes the stadium itself, which cost $215 million to build. About three-quarters of the construction cost was provided by metro-area taxpayers, with project bonds repaid years ago using a voter-approved 0.1 percent sales tax for the Denver Metropolitan Major League [...]
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Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss
PITTSBURGH — Prosecutors are dropping charges filed against a Tennessee man for throwing a catfish onto the rink in Pittsburgh during the opening of the Stanley Cup Final. Jacob Waddell, 36, was charged in Allegheny County with disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime and disrupting meetings or processions after tossing the dead fish over the glass surrounding the rink Monday night during the Nashville Predators–Pittsburgh Penguins game. District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a Facebook post Wednesday that Waddell’s actions “do not rise to the level of criminal charges” so the charges “will be withdrawn in a timely manner.” Nashville Mayor Megan Barry had called for the charges to be “quickly dismissed.” Related ArticlesJune 2, 2017 P.K. Subban promises Predators will win Game 3 on home ice vs. Penguins June 1, 2017 Jake Guentzel climbing record book for Pittsburgh Penguins May 31, 2017 Penguins take 2-0 Stanley Cup lead with win vs. Predators May 30, 2017 Penguins wary, Predators confident as Game 2 looms May 28, 2017 Mystique vs. mayhem in unlikely Stanley Cup Final Waddell called himself “a dumb redneck with a bad idea” in a conversation with Nashville radio station WGFX-FM . He said he bought an “entirely too big” catfish in Tennessee, fileted it and cut half the spine out, and then ran over it with his pickup truck several times to make it easier to pack. “I tried putting it in my boot, but … the head was too damn big,” he said. “No matter how much I ran over it with the truck, the head was too damn big.” He said he sprayed the fish with cologne and body spray, packed it in a cooler, and sneaked it into the arena by stuffing it down his pants between two layers of regular and compression underwear — having tested the method by wearing the fish at his in-law’s home for 20 minutes without them suspecting anything. He took his $350 upper-level seat before descending to the lower level to accomplish the stunt. Gene J. Puskar, The Associated PressAn ice worker removes a fish during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators on Monday, May 29, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. “It was absolutely — 10 times over — worth it,” he told the station. “I would do it a thousand more times, absolutely.” [...]
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Jake Guentzel climbing record book for Pittsburgh Penguins
PITTSBURGH — The fresh-faced, 22-year-old rookie who leads the NHL in playoff goals — a hot streak that has him in the middle of the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation given to the postseason MVP — was once too embarrassed to shoot the puck. So Jake Guentzel didn’t. Not in any sort of great quantity. Better to use his uncanny vision to set up teammates than be greedy. It’s a mindset that helped the budding Pittsburgh Penguins star set a school record for assists during his freshman year at Nebraska-Omaha three years ago, a selflessness coach Dean Blais tried to change, with mixed results. “You want to be unselfish,” Blais said told Guentzel over and over during Guentzel’s three years with the Mavericks. “But when you’ve got the opportunity to bury it, you bury it.” Consider the message finally received. Related ArticlesJune 2, 2017 P.K. Subban promises Predators will win Game 3 on home ice vs. Penguins May 31, 2017 Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss May 30, 2017 Penguins wary, Predators confident as Game 2 looms May 29, 2017 Jake Guentzel’s goal lifts Penguins over Predators in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final May 29, 2017 NHL’s international plan includes China but not Olympics Guentzel beat Nashville’s Pekka Rinne twice in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday as the Penguins took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Nebraska-born, Minnesota-raised son of a coach who spent most of his childhood trying to keep up with older brothers Ryan and Gabe now has a dozen goals during the postseason. That’s the most ever by an American-born rookie and within two of Dino Ciccarelli’s NHL rookie record set while playing for the Minnesota North Stars in 1981. Oh, and his five game-winning goals so far are tops among first-year players in a league that dates back a century. “Someone that would have dreamed this is lying,” Blais said with a laugh. Maybe, but this is hardly a fluke. Painting the beginning of Guentzel’s NHL career as charmed — he did happen to score on his first two shots in his NHL debut in a loss against the New York Rangers in November — doesn’t do justice to his talent and work ethic. Sure, there’s a little puck luck involved, but not much. You don’t pour in 28 goals and 24 assists in 61 games thanks to a bounce or two. “He’s been given a lot of responsibility and he’s done a great job of just continuing to improve and compete,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. It’s not a coincidence Pittsburgh’s equipment manager Dana Heinze put Guentzel in a stall adjacent to Crosby’s when the rookie was called up for good in January. It’s a practice the team uses to give young players a chance to get acclimated to life in the NHL while sitting next to the face of the game. Putting a newbie next to Crosby also creates minimal distraction for the rest of the room during the daily media crush around the two-time Hart Trophy winner. Eventually, however, the crowd breaks up. It’s in those quiet moments that Crosby becomes equal parts mentor and teammate. “I think Sid has a really nice way of making those guys feel comfortable when they come into our dressing room,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “The influence he has on these kids goes a long way to giving these kids the confidence that they need.” Not that Guentzel has ever lacked confidence (his Twitter handle is the playful @jakenbake20 ), even if he doesn’t exactly fit the physical profile of an elite goal scorer at 5-feet-11 and 180 pounds. Yet he’s thrived anyway thanks to a preternatural sense of timing and a hockey IQ gleaned from a lifetime around the game. He was never the biggest in his family but found a way to keep up with Gabe (six years older) and Ryan (eight years older) anyway. “He got the puck taken away from his a lot,” Blais said. “So he learned how to move it. How to protect it. He was always one step ahead.” In some ways, he still is. Guentzel’s winner in Game 1 against Nashville is a testament to his vision and patience. He was at center ice when the puck was pinched along the wall. He began sprinting toward the Nashville zone before teammate Brian Dumoulin even had it. By the time Guentzel collected Matt Cullen’s one-touch pass, he was racing in on Rinne. Rather than just fling the puck at the goaltender, he pulled it back , allowing Nashville’s Ryan Ellis to inadvertently screen Rinne. The goaltender could only wave his glove at it as it ripped into the net to put Pittsburgh ahead to stay. The player who never wanted to shoot now can’t seem to stop. Blais can’t help but l [...]
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P.K. Subban promises Predators will win Game 3 on home ice vs. Penguins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A good night’s sleep has P.K. Subban more confident than ever about what the Nashville Predators will do on their own ice trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. He delivered an All-Star guarantee for Saturday night. “There’s no question,” Subban said Thursday. “We’re going to win the next game, and then we’ll move forward.” Subban came very close to guaranteeing a win in the moments after Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win Wednesday night. The Penguins turned a 1-1 game into a rout by scoring three goals in the first 3:28 of the third period , forcing Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to pull star goaltender Pekka Rinne for rookie Juuse Saros. On Thursday, the All-Star defenseman channeled Mark Messier, who backed up his own guarantee of a Rangers’ win against New Jersey in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. Subban explained why he was so confident, noting the Predators know they deserve to be playing for the Stanley Cup. “We’re capable of playing even better than we did in Pittsburgh, and I thought we played some great hockey,” Subban said. “I mean, out of 120 minutes, maybe we’d like to take back six of them. Ultimately, we have to be realistic with where we’re at. We’re down 2-nothing. We’re coming back in our barn, and we don’t lose here. So it starts Saturday.” Laviolette gave no hint about whether Rinne will start Game 3, saying only that he will not talk about lineup changes. The Predators coach says his goalies know who will start. Rinne went into the final with the stingiest numbers in net this postseason and a favorite to win the Conn Smythe trophy as postseason MVP. The 34-year-old goalie has instead given up eight goals on 36 shots through two games. Two goals went off teammates and into the net, but it has not been the inspiring performance that the Predators and their fans are used to from the big Finn. His save percentage has dipped throughout the playoffs — .976 against Chicago, then .932 against St. Louis and .925 in the West finals against Anaheim. Against the quick-strike Penguins, it’s just .778. Still, the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist has allowed only 13 goals in eight playoff games at home and his teammates vowed to play better defense. “It’s not his fault by any means,” Nashville captain Mike Fisher said of the goals allowed in Pittsburgh. “We know we can do a better job in front of him. It’s a team game, and everyone looks at shots and save percentage but forget about the quality and who we’re playing. And certain parts of the game where we got to help him out.” Defenseman Ryan Ellis, who has played with Rinne for six years, called the goalie Nashville’s best player, night in and night out. “There’s nothing that can replace Peks,” Ellis said. Returning home should provide a boost for both Rinne and the Predators. They are 7-1 inside Bridgestone Arena this postseason with the lone loss coming in overtime. They expect a loud arena for Game 3, which is the first Cup Final home game in Nashville history and it comes on a Saturday night. Related ArticlesJune 1, 2017 Jake Guentzel climbing record book for Pittsburgh Penguins May 31, 2017 Penguins take 2-0 Stanley Cup lead with win vs. Predators May 31, 2017 Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss May 30, 2017 Penguins wary, Predators confident as Game 2 looms May 28, 2017 Mystique vs. mayhem in unlikely Stanley Cup Final “I’m sure they’ll hear the noise and the energy in the building,” Subban said of the Penguins. “It’s a fun atmosphere to play.” Nashville may be home, but the Penguins have history on their side. Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams leading 2-0 have won 45 of 50 series. That includes the last three such situations with the Kings winning in 2012 and 2014 and the Penguins a year ago. Pittsburgh also is proof that a team can rally from an 0-2 deficit to win the Stanley Cup, doing it in 2009 to beat Detroit in seven games. Boston did the same thing against Vancouver in 2011, also a seven-game series. Coach Mike Sullivan said his Penguins are experienced enough to understand the need to focus. The Penguins lost 5-1 in Nashville last October, and the atmosphere will be much more intense this time around with a forecast that could include fan-tossed catfish. “I think we have to embrace the energy that’s going to be in the city and in the building,” Sullivan said. “We’ve just got to focus on those things that we can control, and that’s going to be our competitive level, our attitude, our execution, all of those things within our control. That’s [...]
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Penguins take 2-0 Stanley Cup lead with win vs. Predators
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins kept Pekka Rinne plenty busy this time. Too busy for Rinne and the rest of the Nashville Predators to keep up with the surging defending Stanley Cup champions. Jake Guentzel, Scott Wilson and Evgeni Malkin scored 3:18 apart early in the third period as the Penguins chased Rinne and pulled away for a 4-1 victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night. The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 2-0. Game 3 is Saturday night in Nashville in what amounts to a last stand for the Predators and their suddenly very average-looking goalie. The 22-year-old Guentzel finished with two goals to give him an NHL-high 12 during the playoffs, the second-most by a rookie in postseason history. His 19 playoff points are the most by an American-born first-year player and he’ll have at least two more cracks at adding to that total. If the Predators don’t get it together back home in “Smashville,” it might only be two. “It’s crazy,” Guentzel said. “You can’t even put into words what it feels. But we know the ultimate goal is two more wins and they’re going to be tough to get.” Boxscore: Pittsburgh 4, Nashville 1 Matt Murray played spectacularly at times through the first two periods, buying his teammates enough time to find their footing and get to Rinne. Murray finished with 37 saves in all as he helped move the Penguins to within two victories of becoming the first team to go back-to-back since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998. Pontus Aberg scored the lone goal for the Predators, who were once again undone by a sudden barrage from the NHL’s highest-scoring team. In Game 1, the Penguins pushed three goals by Rinne in a span of 4:11 in the first period to build a 3-0 lead. The Predators rallied to tie before Guentzel’s go-ahead goal with 3:17 remaining put the Penguins ahead to stay. This time, Pittsburgh’s flurry came a little bit later. And it was once again led by the baby-faced son of a coach who has no problem shouldering the responsibility of playing alongside star Sidney Crosby. The game was tied at 1 at the start of the third period when Guentzel jumped on a rebound 10 seconds into the period to put Pittsburgh ahead. Wilson was credited with his third of the playoffs just over 3 minutes later when a centering pass caromed off Nashville’s Vernon Fiddler and by Rinne. Malkin added his ninth of the playoffs and second of the series just 15 seconds later and Rinne was skating to the bench in favor of backup Juuse Saros after stopping 21 of 25 shots. “When we score one, we don’t stop,” Malkin said. “We want to score more. The first shift in the third period, we score. We want more. It’s our game. Never stop.” Rinne fell to 0-5-0 in five career starts in Pittsburgh and he has never beaten the Penguins anywhere as a starter. “We’ve done good things,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “For 5½ periods, we like what we did. There’s a stretch they’re able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic and that swung two games in their favor.” Pittsburgh vowed to put more pressure on Rinne than it managed in their 5-3 victory in Game 1, a win they managed despite going 37 minutes without throwing a single puck Rinne’s way and none in the second period, the first time that’s happened since the NHL started tracking shots in 1957. The Penguins matched their entire shot total from the opener (12) by the end of the first period but still found themselves trying to keep up with the Predators. The Stanley Cup newbies were disappointed but not dismayed by their Game 1 loss, pointing to the way they carried play for long stretches as tangible proof they weren’t just happy to be here. The result was the kind of up-and-down play that showcased the speed on both sides and included more than a dash of antagonism, particularly early. Nashville’s Matt Irwin drilled Pittsburgh’s Matt Cullen from behind into the boards in the first period, a hit that left the 40-year-old Cullen headed down the runway for a quick check but didn’t result in a penalty. Minutes later, Penguins forward Chris Kunitz became tangled up with P.K. Subban and ended up cross-checking Subban in the head, part of a sequence that saw Malkin go off for hooking. Malkin and Subban even ended up fighting in the third period when things got out of hand. It was a scene hard to imagine through the first two taut and chippy periods. Related ArticlesMay 31, 2017 Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss May 30, 2017 Penguins wary, Predators confident as Game 2 looms May 28, 2017 Mystique vs. mayhem in unlikely Stanley Cup Final May 27, 2017 Minus Kris Letang, anonymous Pittsburgh Penguins’ defe [...]
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