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Crosby's brilliant night overshadowed by Subban tussle, water bottle toss

11 June 2017

Nashville has controlled this series, nearly every fancy stat shows that... and finally, starting in the second period of game three, the Preds finally got a bounce or two to go their way.

Crosby finished with three assists to reach 27 points, one behind Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin for the National Hockey League postseason scoring lead. "Even more to the point, our guys have always, when we do not have the game that we want, usually our guys respond with an effort and a game that we're a lot more proud of".

So do the Predators, who can't get back to Smashville fast enough.

During the 72-hour break between Games 2 and 3, Predators coach Peter Laviolette was asked repeatedly if he meant to bench Rinne.

Facing elimination in game six, the Predators defenseman insisted his team will play better in Nashville.

The Penguins held a 3-0 lead following the first period of play.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are one game away from a second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

"I know people talk about how we're exhausted, but believe me, they're exhausted too", Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin said. "I know there's things we can do that can support our goaltender better".

But it wasn't just his fine play that helped the Penguins destroy Nashville by a final of 6-0. All eyes are on goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Matt Murray going into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final as the Predators visit the Penguins. There were two strong back-to-back stops, in particular, on James Neal shortly after Bryan Rust scored the second Pittsburgh goal. Crosby did not score in the game, but did have three assists to lift the Penguins to a 3-2 series lead.

His primary goal to playing well, he said afterward, was "finding pucks through traffic". He started the game by drawing a penalty and setting up Justin Schultz for the opening goal on the ensuing power play. Nashville was going to go into the locker room only down 2-0. His teammates played better in Nashville, too, averaging 4.5 goals per game.

The referees were occupied with action on the other end of the ice and didn't seem to notice or ignored Crosby keeping Subban down for so long. The two-time MVP ended up on top of a stickless Subban and attempted to get up only to have Subban refuse to let go of Crosby's right leg. "I don't think that there's any searching going on in there on how we're going to do this or what needs to take place".

He's stopped just 34 of 45 in Pittsburgh during the series. Backup Juuse Saros didn't fare much better, giving up three goals in relief. As the game was solidly out of hand in the third, some bumping and slashing between Roman Josi and Patric Hornqvist devolved into a pair of satellite fights, with Evgeni Malkin scoring a takedown on Josi and Viktor Arvidsson trading punched with Carl Hagelin. "(And whatever you think, Subban did not "[have] it coming", as Mike Milbury idiotically claimed.) Crosby is pushing Subban's head into the ice. Winger Jake Guentzel's second-period assist gave him 21 playoff points and tied the record for a rookie in one playoff year, set by Minnesota's Dino Ciccarelli in 1981 and matched in 2010 by Philadelphia's Ville Leino.