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Stanley Cup Final

Key moment, Game 1: Jake Guentzel breaks tie for Penguins in third

Rookie forward scores winning goal on first shot against Predators in 37 minutes

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final 5-3 against the Nashville Predators, but it was anything but easy for the defending champions.

The Penguins went up 3-0 in the first period, were held without a shot on goal in the second period, and allowed the Predators to come back and tie the game before winning it late on a goal by rookie Jake Guentzel, his NHL-leading 10th of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here is how the Penguins went from potential disaster to being three wins away from becoming the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in 19 years:

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Penguins series coverageOpportunistic Jake Guentzel lifts Penguins to Game 1 victory]

 

11:24

Trailing 3-2 and pressing for the tie, the Predators collect the puck in their own zone to begin a breakout when defenseman P.K. Subban, under pressure from Penguins forward Scott Wilson, clears the puck over the glass and is given a minor penalty for delay of game. Nashville did not allow a shot on goal on the ensuing Pittsburgh power play.

13:29

With 10 seconds left in the Subban penalty, Predators center Mike Fisher gets the puck behind his own net and rims it around the boards to the Penguins end. Nashville forward Austin Watson, who had just jumped on the ice, goes in after it and beats Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta to the puck. Watson fends off Trevor Daley behind the Penguins net and buys time for rookie Frederick Gaudreau to jump off the bench and skate into the slot, where he takes a Watson feed and beats Murray to tie the game 3-3.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Gaudreau ties game with first NHL goal

"I thought it was a good forecheck to get in there, [Watson] working hard to come up with that loose puck and take it from behind the net," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think Freddie was in the right spot at the right time. [Watson] made a great pass to him, and it's one of those quick hits where I think it's tough for a goaltender, you're looking one way and you have to come out and figure out where the shot's coming from.

"But it's good for Freddie, a kid stepping in like that without much NHL experience and being able to jump into a game, a Final game, Game 1, on the road against the Penguins, defending champs. Pretty good game by him."

It was Gaudreau's first NHL goal in his 12th career game, three in the playoffs and nine in the regular season. In the stands, his parents were watching their son play live in the NHL for the first time and witnessed a fantastic moment.

But Gaudreau would gladly give it all back if it meant changing the outcome.

"I'd trade that goal for a win, 100 percent," he said. "That's for sure."

15:38

Fisher works the puck into the corner in the Pittsburgh zone where it is collected by Nashville forward James Neal, who curls out into a shooting position and hits the crossbar behind goalie Matt Murray. The game remains tied 3-3.

16:43

Predators defenseman Roman Josi gets the puck at his own blue line and attempts to chip the puck ahead to Gaudreau, but it is cut off by Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz. He moves the puck back to the Predators blue line to Matt Cullen, who is immediately pressured by Josi. Cullen doesn't even seem to look before simply deflecting the pass to Guentzel as he enters the Predators zone with speed, taking advantage of Josi being out of position because he had moved up on Cullen. Josi's partner Ryan Ellis has to move over to defend Guentzel and he gets there in time, but Guentzel still is able to let go of a wrist shot that beats goalie Pekka Rinne high on the glove side to give the Penguins a 4-3 lead.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Guentzel snipes late go-ahead goal

"[Cullen] made a nice play to chip it to speed to [Guentzel]," Schultz said. "He had a lot of speed and made a great shot."

The Guentzel shot was Pittsburgh's first on goal since Nick Bonino scored with 17 seconds left in the first period, a span of exactly 37 minutes. According to NBC color analyst Pierre McGuire, positioned between the benches, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan asked them just before Guentzel scored if anyone would get a puck on goal.

Guentzel ended the drought in the best way possible.

"He's a real good player," Sullivan said. "He gets a great goal for us tonight. I think that's an indication of the type of player that he is and his capability. But certainly I think he's a guy that we know we can rely on here to help us win games."

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