NASHVILLE – The Predators returned to Smashville facing a two-games-to-none deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. They’ll leave it with a 2-2 series tie against the Pittsburgh Penguins, after their spirited 4-1 Game 4 victory on Monday night.
Pekka Rinne was frequently brilliant in making 23 saves, while the Nashville Predators received goals from Calle Jarnkrok, Freddie Gaudreau, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg.
Game 5 is Thursday night back in Pittsburgh.
Defensively, it was another gem for Nashville. The Predators’ penalty kill shut down the Penguins’ three power-play opportunities, and has now gone 15-for-16 against them. While Sidney Crosby hit the board with a goal, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel were both shut down with no points.
Matt Murray ended his two games in Nashville having given up eight goals on 58 shots.
The Predators opened the scoring as Jarnkrok tallied his second of the playoffs at 14:51:
Austin Watson had the initial shot that Murray turned aside, but Jarnkrok was there to tuck home the rebound.
The Penguins challenged the goal, believing that Craig Smith interfered with Murray on the save. But they lost the challenge, and the goal stood.
Sidney Crosby quickly got it back on a breakaway goal past Rinne just 1:06 later.
Crosby’s eighth of the playoffs featured a gorgeous move that faked out Rinne, as well as a fortunate bounce off the iron and behind him.
The first period ended 1-1, but that deadlock only lasted 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the second period, as Gaudreau scored on a tight wraparound goal that the officials initially missed. It was confirmed on video review, his third of the Stanley Cup Final and second in two games.
Then the Rinne show was on.
The Predators goalie made several strong saves, including a fantastic three-save sequence that robbed Jake Guentzel.
At 13:08, it was Arvidsson with a breakaway backbreaker for the Predators:
That was Mike Fisher, celebrating his birthday, making that diving pass to Arvidsson for the goal.
The Predators controlled play for the rest of the period, and entered the third with the lead. The win moved them to 9-0 when leading after two periods, while the Penguins dropped to 0-7 when trailing after two.
Forsberg iced the win with an empty netter, moments after Murray was pulled. It was his first point of the series.
The fans roared through the final buzzer, as they had roared all series. The reward for their efforts? The guaranteed Game 6 back in Nashville, and another chance to crank up the playoffs’ biggest party.
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