Pittsburgh- The Stanley Cup finals opener took place in Pittsburgh Monday night. The Penguins were able to take game one winning 5-3 thanks to some bad officiating and bad video reviews but nonetheless got the job done to take a one game to nothing series leads.
It was exciting for the most part but the controversy started when the Predators score first but was taken away thanks to a coaches challenge that had a player offsides. Although the video clearly showed the play was not offsides, reviewing officials deemed it offsides and took the goal away from Nashville. It then opened the flood gates for the Penguins who fired off three straight goals in the opening frame.
The Predators did however show resilience as they fought their way back into the game despite the challenges they had to face early. They were able to tie the game at three late but the Preds net-minder Pekka Rinne couldn’t handle a rifle from Guentzel to put the Penguins ahead with just over two minutes left in regulation. That goal was also the first shot in 37 minutes for the Penguins.
When asked about not having a shot in that stretch, head coach Mike Sullivan went on to say, “We weren’t very good. You know, we weren’t very good. So when you’re playing a team like Nashville that has a balanced attack, you’ve got to have some pushback. I don’t think in the second period we had any pushback. This team usually, for the most part, is pretty good at making sure that we’re continuing to play the game the right way. Tonight wasn’t the case. We just weren’t very good.”
He was also asked if there is a cause for concern given the fact his team only had twelve shots but still got the results he wanted and he went on to say, “Well, I think our coaching staff, we try to be more focused on the process, more so than the result. Obviously at this time of year, the results are really important. We’re pleased, you know, to get the result that we got. We got some big plays at key times from players in order to win this game. I don’t want to discount that because we had kind of a sleepy start for the first six or seven minutes, but then I thought our team really responded.”
Predators head coach Peter Laviolette believed his team played well just didn’t get the results they wanted by saying, “I thought our guys played well, you know, from start to finish. Played well. The third goal was tough. It’s not really even a scoring chance and it goes off of our defenseman, shin guarding in the net. That pushed the score 3-0. From the way we started and the way we continued on after that, I thought our guys played great. I thought we played a good game. We hate the score. We hate the result. But we’ll move forward.”
When asked about his goalie Rinne and the results the coach still believed in him, ” I mean, it’s tough. He’s been a rock for us. The five-on-three goal is tough. It’s never easy for anybody five-on-three. Like I said, the redirect off of our defenseman, there’s really no chance at that one. Might have been a deflection on one of them as well. It’s really difficult. We have no question about Pekks in net and what he’s capable of, and he’ll be the backbone of this team.”
What did this game did show was character on the Predators part and showed they can overcome being on the bad side of calls which can make this series very interesting. The Penguins had only 12 shots on goal for the entire game, twelve! Seemed luck was on the Penguins side tonight and proved why they are the defending champs. This series is far from over but it showed us that this can be a fun one to watch.