Penguins on brink of repeat after blowout win

The Pittsburgh Penguins toyed with the Nashville Predators, 6-0, here Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the series but conventional wisdom has the good feelings shifting back to the Preds Sunday night when the series returns to the historically insane atmosphere of Bridgestone Arena.

Crosby and Nashville's P.K. Subban got in a tangle on the ice behind the Penguins' net late in the first, with Crosby bouncing Subban's helmeted head off the ice as he tried to free his stick.

Perhaps it sparked Crosby's star teammates Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, who had fielded some criticism after not scoring a point in Games 3 or 4.

Out long term after neck surgery, Letang isn't a part of this run, but a key adjustment by Hainsey and the other defencemen in the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators is a major reason why Pittsburgh is one victory away from a second consecutive championship.

The health of Nashville defenceman Ryan Ellis is in question after he couldn't finish Game 5, and the Predators are offering no clues at all for Game 6 on Sunday night. The team that has won Game 5 in a 2-2 series has gone on to win the Cup 71 percent (17 of 24) of the time since 1939.

Crosby and Subban haven't shared much ice time at even strength in the series, directly opposing each other for less than 22 minutes. We get to play at home and it's just a one-game mentality. "Wanted to make sure that we played on our toes". "I don't think that necessarily they were bad goals". Ellis had a seven-game points streak this post-season. Imagine the uproar from Penguins fans - and from certain segments of the Canadian media - if any player did that to No. 87.

However, the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets that night with Marc-Andre Fleury subbing for Murray in goal.

Pekka Rinne's struggles in Pittsburgh have his Nashville Predators on the brink of elimination.

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They hesitate going for their shots, we got them attacking fielders, and we asked the bowlers to make them play hard shots". Kohli also said that the fielding was up in such a big game and that was a big bonus for the side.

"The real hockey starts now", Subban said.

"Whether (the puck) goes in for him or doesn't, I think he prepares the same way every game, and he does these things every game", goaltender Matt Murray said.

Crosby had this account: "He lost his stick, and he was doing some UFC move on my foot". "I'm trying to make the most of it". I don't know what he was trying to do to my ankle.

It's not the way the Penguins were playing in the first four games of the series as Nashville negated their speed and controlled the neutral zone. I was in some kind of lock he had going on there.

There was the slick blind backhand pass to Conor Sheary just 1:19 into the second period that made it 4-0. "I really don't understand the call. Definitely things we could have done better defensively".

But what the Predators do have is a roster full of players who are capable of collectively stepping up and taking a game over. His team's grasp on a second straight Stanley Cup tenuous at best heading into Game 5 against Nashville on Thursday, Crosby did more than send a message.

"Growing up, you watch him, so to be honest it's pretty special", said Guentzel, whose 13 postseason goals are one off the National Hockey League playoff rookie record set by Dino Ciccarelli with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981. Penguins F Nick Bonino missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury.

The Thunder Bay, Ont., native had been rocked for eight goals in the two defeats in Nashville, though Murray himself wasn't too displeased with his overall performance. Nashville F Colin Wilson made his series debut after missing the first four games with an undisclosed injury.

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