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5 Keys: Predators at Penguins, Game 2

Nashville needs bounce-back performance from goalie Pekka Rinne; Pittsburgh penalty kill must improve

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PREDATORS at PENGUINS

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 1-0

 

PITTSBURGH -- To win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins will require an improved performance, particularly on the offensive end, from Game 1, when they got the result but not the effort they wanted against the Nashville Predators. 

Meanwhile, the Predators likely won't look to change much from Game 1, except the outcome.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:

 

1. More shots from Pittsburgh

In Game 1, the Penguins went 37 minutes, including the entire second period, without a shot on goal. Pittsburgh was outshot 26-12 but won 5-3. 

If the Penguins want a similar result Wednesday, they'll need to test Predators goalie Pekka Rinne more.

"We definitely need to funnel more pucks to the net and create that second-chance opportunity," forward Conor Sheary said.

Video: Rosen and Cotsonika Game Day Preview - SCF Game 2

 

2. A similar plan from Nashville

Outside of a span of 4:11 late in the first period, when the Penguins scored three goals, the Predators controlled nearly all of Game 1. They started strong in the first period until an apparent goal from defenseman P.K. Subban was called back when Pittsburgh successfully challenged for offside.

Nashville recovered in the second period and effectively shut down Pittsburgh's dynamic attack. A slightly, but not vastly, improved effort could be all the Predators need to tie the series before heading home for Game 3.

"We have to focus on what we have to do out there," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said.

 

3. Penguins' potential lineup adjustments

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan tweaked his lines in the second period, most notably moving right wing Phil Kessel to the third line with Patric Hornqvist replacing him on the second line next to center Evgeni Malkin.

"When we do have [Malkin and Kessel] together, we think they're dynamic or they have the potential to be dynamic," Sullivan said. "When we separate them, it gives us a little bit more balance to our team."

Pittsburgh had an optional practice Tuesday and an optional morning skate Wednesday, so it's difficult to tell if Malkin and Kessel will be separated in Game 2.

 

4. Bounce-back performance from Pekka Rinne

To win the Stanley Cup, the Predators will need Rinne to perform much better than he did in Game 1, when he allowed four goals on 11 shots for a .636 save percentage, his lowest in a game (regular season or Stanley Cup Playoffs) since he allowed three goals on six shots against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 3, 2013.

Rinne, who was 1-5-2 with a 3.57 goals-against average and .880 save percentage in his career against the Penguins entering the Final, is 12-5 with a 1.83 GAA and .934 save percentage in the playoffs. Nashville will look for him to play at that level in Game 2.

"That's the best part of the playoffs," Rinne said. "You get another chance. You get to play against the same team."

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Rinne gobbles up Crosby's wrister

 

5. Penguins penalty kill

Pittsburgh killed 19 of 20 power-play opportunities against the Ottawa Senators during the Eastern Conference Final. That success didn't carry into Game 1 of the Cup Final, when the Predators scored on two of their three chances.

The Penguins played relatively well defensively 5-on-5, but their penalty kill allowed the Predators' first two goals before a defensive lapse led to their third.

Pittsburgh's penalty kill can't afford to have a similarly poor performance in Game 2.

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Colton Sissons -- Pontus Aberg

Viktor Arvidsson -- Mike Fisher -- James Neal

Frederick Gaudreau -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Craig Smith

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Vladislav Kamenev, Marek Mazanec, PA Parenteau , Petter Granberg, Mikka Salomaki, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Ryan Johansen (acute compartment syndrome), Kevin Fiala (fractured left femur), Colin Wilson (undisclosed)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Scott Wilson -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Bryan Rust -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Jake Guentzel -- Matt Cullen -- Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Carl Hagelin, Mark Streit, Josh Archibald, Oskar Sundqvist, Cameron Gaunce, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky, Frank Corrado, Kevin Porter, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sestito, Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire

Injured: Kris Letang (neck surgery), Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body), Chad Ruhwedel (concussion)

 

Status report

Colin Wilson likely won't play. He did not participate in Nashville's morning skate. … Predators coach Peter Laviolette did not disclose any lineup adjustments. … Hagelin is expected to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He remained on the ice well after most of his teammates left the morning skate.

 

Who's hot

Sissons has four goals in his past two games, including a hat trick against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. … After scoring the opening goal in Game 1, Malkin has two goals in his past three games. He leads the NHL with 25 playoff points (eight goals, 17 assists).

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