The defending NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins have won the first game of the 2017 Stanley Cup finals.
On Monday night, the Penguins roared out to an early three goal lead and then held off the relentless Nashville Predators to get an early leg up in their series.
Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin opened the floodgates with a power play goal at the 15:32 mark of the first period. Then the Penguins poured it on with goals by Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino to take what seemed to be an insurmountable lead after one period.
But the resilient Predators clamped down in defense, incredibly holding the Penguins to zero shots on goal in the second period while adding a power play goal of their own by Ryan Ellis.
Nashville rallied to tie the score in the third. Another power play tally by Colton Sissons at 10:06. Then center Frederick Gaudreau knotted the score at three, erasing the early Penguins advantage.
The fans were beginning to get restive at PPG Paints Arena.
Most troubling is that the Nashville defense held the Penguins without a shot for an astounding 37 minutes – the length of nearly two full periods.
But the home team managed to regain the momentum just in time.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) May 30, 2017
Center Jake Guentzel was finally able to get off a shot and it beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne to put the Penguins in front for good. A late score by Nick Bonino into an empty net provided the final 5-3 verdict.
Rinne was not at his best in this game as the three first period goals can attest to but the Nashville defense was lights out when it had to be. The Penguins finished with a meager twelve shots on goal but four of those beat Rinne.
Nashville just dug itself too big of a hole, especially against the Penguins on their home ice.
It game one was any indication, this is going to be a whale of a series.
The puck drops for game two on Wednesday night at 8 PM.