The first Stanley Cup Final game at Bridgestone Arena was a smashing success for the Nashville Predators, who registered a 5-1 victory in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is here Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).
Nashville is 8-1 at home in the playoffs this season.
In Game 3, the Predators kept scoring goals and adding fuel to the party in Nashville.
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm scored on the power play to make it 5-1 at 13:10. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were in the penalty box for the Penguins and Filip Forsberg was assessed a penalty for Nashville.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Ekholm scorches a slapper for PPG
Roman Josi, Frederick Gaudreau, James Neal and Craig Smith also scored for the Predators and goaltender Pekka Rinne had his strongest game, making 27 saves.
Jake Guentzel scored for the Penguins, giving Pittsburgh the first goal and temporarily silencing a crowd that was ready to rock several hours before the game started.
The Predators had two power-play goals in Game 3 and have four power-play goals in the series. Pittsburgh has one; it came on a 5-on-3 by Malkin in Game 1.
The five goals are the most Murray has given up in his 28 playoff appearances during the past two seasons.
Ekholm is the 19th player from the Predators to score, extending what was long ago a franchise record.
The Predators have a 4-1 lead, thanks to a Craig Smith breakaway goal at 4:54 of the third period.
Smith scored his first goal of the postseason when Chris Kunitz turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Smith beat goalie Matt Murray with a snap shot to the glove side.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Smith strikes glove side on break
The Predators have had 18 different skaters score goals now this postseason.
Smith's goal also brought another catfish onto the ice as the fans at Bridgestone Arena and the people watching outside entered full party mode.
The Predators need to hold on for another 20 minutes to turn this into a series. Nashville leads 3-1 in Game 3, but trails 2-0 in the best-of-7 series.
Nashville, playing its first Stanley Cup Final game here, used the home-ice advantage to carry them through the first 40 minutes. The Predators are 7-1 at home this season in the playoffs.
The crowd has done its part throughout, bringing their loudest performance of the postseason by a fair margin. They cat-called Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray each time he allowed a goal. They rose and roared through each television timeout, providing energy to the building and the Predators.
One of the keys for the Predators has been its penalty kill. It is 3-for-3 through the first two periods on Saturday and 10-for-10 in past two games.
The Predators lead 3-1 after two periods, the latest they have led in this series. Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau scored 42 seconds apart in the second period before forward James Neal scored with 22.6 seconds left in the period, turning the momentum in the favor of the home team, which has a two-goal lead for the first time in the series.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Neal banks puck in off Murray's glove
The Predators almost had a two-goal lead earlier, but goaltender Matt Murray stopped a chance from Neal on a 3-on-1 rush.
Calle Jarnkrok was also denied on a 2-on-1 rush while killing a boarding penalty assessed to defenseman Ryan Ellis late in the period.
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who was pulled in Game 2, played perhaps his best period of the Final, making 13 saves in the period. He has 18 saves in the game.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Rinne shuts the door on Kessel, Kunitz
The Predators have found their goals and now lead 2-1 with two of them 42 seconds apart from Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau.
The Josi goal, which beat goaltender Matt Murray to the short side, came on the power play. It is Josi's sixth goal of the postseason.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Josi hammers home slapper for PPG
Justin Schultz was in the penalty box for holding Harry Zolnierczyk on a 3-on-2 rush.
Gaudreau scored on the next shift, cutting across the slot and beating Murray to the high glove-side. It is the second goal in three games for the rookie. Josi had an assist on the goal.
Nashville leads in this series for only the second time.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Gaudreau snaps in wrister from slot
The Predators are searching for goals as the second period begins. They trail 1-0 and have no goals on 12 shots.
Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray has a streak of 67:03 without allowing a goal, dating back to the first period of Game 2.
Nashville needs more chances from its forwards. Of the 12 shots in the first, defensemen have seven. Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm each have three and P.K. Subban has one.
The Predators also need to do better in the faceoff circle, one of the areas it has had success in the first two games. Pittsburgh won 10-of-18 faceoffs in the first period and Matt Cullen has won 5-of-7.
For the entertainment during the first intermission, Tommy Shaw, lead singer of Styx, played with the house band. He played "Blue Collar Man," Renegade" and "Too Much Time on My Hands."
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Murray uses blocker to rob Jarnkrok
The Predators tried to push in the second half of the first period, but could not generate much and enter intermission trailing 1-0.
A shorthanded chance by Victor Arvidsson, a one-timer by James Neal that went high and a last-shift shot from Craig Smith were perhaps the best two chances in the second half. Nashville finished with an 11-6 advantage in shots.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Murray pads away Arvidsson's wrister
The Predators took the only two penalties of the first period, but killed each effectively. They are 9-for-9 in the past four periods on the penalty kill. While that is impressive, they need to take less penalties if they want to maintain momentum.
Of note on the goal by Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby got the secondary assist on the goal. He has 160 career playoff points (56 goals, 104 assists) to move into a tie for No. 20 on the all-time list.
The crowd was temporarily silenced but has come back louder than before.
Midway through the first period, the Predators have stabilized the ship, but trail 1-0 on a third-minute goal by Jake Guentzel.
The Predators hold a 6-4 advantage in shots, but have yet to solve Matt Murray. Pekka Rinne, who has the unwavering support of the crowd here, is battling the puck a little bit again and almost let in a soft bouncer from the blue line before he was able to parry it at last second.
The TV timeout at 10:51 featured the traditional standing ovation from the crowd and there have been few louder this postseason.
The Penguins knew they would need to silence the boisterous Bridgestone Arena building in Game 3.
Red-hot Jake Guentzel did just that with the game-opening goal 2:36 into the first period. Guentzel, who had the game-winning goal in each of the first two games, has four goals in the first seven periods of this series.
This time Guentzel slammed a rebound through the five-hole of Pekka Rinne. He has 13 goals this postseason, one short of the rookie record held by Dino Ciccarelli of the Washington Capitals.
The crowd was temporarily silenced but has come back louder than before.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Guentzel slides a rebound five-hole
The start of Game 3 lived up to the hype.
Martina McBride, a country music legend, sang the national anthem and Hank Williams Jr., another country music icon, was the 7th Man. He wore a Home Predators gold jersey with the No.76 on it and his nickname, Bocephus, on the name plate.
Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Martina McBride sings national anthem
The crowd roared throughout the whole thing, just as it had throughout warmups.
Now it is time for the hockey game. Nashville is ready.
The Predators will have two players making their Cup Final debut in the lineup for Game 3.
Forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and P.A. Parenteau are in the lineup, replacing Cody McLeod and Vernon Fiddler.
Zolnierczyk has a goal and an assist in eight playoff games this season, but has not played since Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. Parenteau has not registered a point in three appearances. He last played in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.
Frederick Gaudreau will center Zolnierczyk and Parenteau on a remade fourth line. He has played the past four games as a wing.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino is not taking warmups for Game 3 and is unlikely to play.
For the Predators, goaltender Pekka Rinne led Nashville out for warmup. He will start Game 3 as expected.
Bonino will most likely be replaced by forward Carl Hagelin, who last played in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
He missed the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final as a healthy scratch.
Bonino arrived here on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his left foot. He did not skate during the morning skate on Saturday nor during practice in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Things are a bit crazy here as this city gets ready to host the Stanley Cup Final for the first time.
The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0, but that has not dampened the party one bit here.
The honkytonks on Broadway right outside the arena have been buzzing since early this afternoon. Fans have been congregating on Broadway for the free Alan Jackson pre-game concert all through the afternoon, and the area around the arena is a packed mass of humanity, a scene unlike any in the 19 Stanley Cup Final series I have attended.
Video: Stanley Cup Final Party, Nashville Style
The Predators are counting on their crowd to help them get back in the series. Nashville is 7-1 at home this postseason. Captain Mike Fisher said during the morning skate on Saturday that he expected the crowd to bring it to a whole new level now that the Final has arrived. He joked with reporters that ear plugs are recommended. It appears that is going to be the case.
We'll be back once the players take the ice for warmups when we find out if forward Nick Bonino plays for the Penguins and if the Predators stay with Pekka Rinne in goal.
Bonino was injured in Game 2, blocking a shot from defenseman P.K. Subban. He finished the game, but arrived in Nashville on Friday in a walking boot and on crutches. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Bonino is a game-time decision.
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette has not confirmed Rinne as his starter for Game 3, despite being offered the opportunity to do so at every availability since the 4-1 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday. But, Rinne, who was pulled in the third period of Game 2 and has allowed eight goals in the first two games, was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate suggesting he will start.
There were also suggestions that Laviolette was thinking about introducing either P.A. Parenteau and/or Harry Zolnierczyk into the lineup. Neither has played this series.