NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators' 4-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday turned on a single, incredible play by Nashville's longest-tenured player.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne made a series of three saves on Penguins center Sidney Crosby and forward Jake Guentzel in the second period not long after rookie Frederick Gaudreau gave the Predators a 2-1 lead.
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Roughly four minutes after the Rinne saves, Viktor Arvidsson scored to extend the Predators lead to 3-1 at 13:08 of the second period, and Nashville never looked back in tying the best-of-7 series 2-2 heading into Game 5 at Pittsburgh on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).
"That one that Sid had the partial breakaway and then I had a smack and [Guentzel] had a smack and the puck just didn't go in the net," Penguins forward Bryan Rust said. "Then they came down not long after and scored. Plays like that sting a little."
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm4: Rinne dives for amazing blocker stop
8:49, second period
Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis shoots from the point, but Crosby gets a piece of it and the puck bounces over to Guentzel at the half-wall. Crosby takes off up the middle of the ice with Ellis chasing him, Guentzel makes a perfect pass onto his tape in stride, and Crosby is gone.
"They're an opportunistic team," Ellis said. "[Crosby's] going the other way and just that little bounce can create such havoc."
Crosby is in alone and the back pressure from Ellis forces him to shoot on the backhand. But Crosby has one of the best backhands in NHL history, so no problem. Rinne stops his first shot, but the rebound goes right back to Crosby for another backhand attempt that Rinne stops with his pad.
But the puck is loose.
Ellis, who is in the process of getting up off the ice, is sliding by as the puck comes off Rinne and he attempts to swipe it away with his glove, but he misses and his momentum carries him out of the play. Rinne attempts to gather the puck with his blocker but misses as well, dropping his stick in the process.
"Once the shot went through, it was kind of on [Rinne's] pad and they were kind of on top of each other," Ellis said. "It fell down and the whacking fest began. Everyone just slapping it around."
Rust arrives on the scene and, with Ellis battling him to get to the puck and Predators forward Craig Smith arriving on the backcheck, he kicks the puck back away from the net with his left skate, gets his stick on the puck on his backhand as he is spinning to his right, and slides it back into the crease.
Josi arrives at the crease ahead of Guentzel and has a chance to get his stick on the puck just as it is swept into the crease, but he's checked in the back at that very moment by Guentzel and the puck slides under his stick.
So now the puck is just sitting in the crease, and by this point Rinne has slid so far out of position he is not only out of his net, but behind it as well, with the goal post blocking his path to the puck.
Rust is still falling to the ice as Josi is falling on him, but he has the presence of mind to take another swing at the puck that nudges it forward. Guentzel takes a swing at the puck almost simultaneously and doesn't get all of it, but enough to put it in a dangerous area.
Rinne dives from his position, contorting himself around the goal post to get his blocker down and swing his other arm across the crease, getting his blocker on the puck inches from the goal line and sliding it out of danger with his left elbow to Predators forward Austin Watson, who collects the puck and skates it out of the zone.
"Finally made kind of a soccer-goalie save," Rinne save. "I was able to keep the puck out of the net. At the moment, obviously that was a big play."