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Stanley Cup Final

Predators won't reveal Game 3 starter against Penguins

Either Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros will get call with Nashville trailing Stanley Cup Final 2-0

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette on Thursday did not announce a starting goaltender for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, but he, Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros know who it will be.

The Predators, who pulled Rinne in the third period of a 4-1, Game 2 loss Wednesday, trail the best-of-7 series 2-0.

Rinne has a .778 save percentage and a 4.69 goals-against average in the first two games of the Cup Final, allowing eight goals on 36 shots. Juuse Saros made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in relief of Rinne on Thursday and stopped the two shots he faced over the fnal 16:32.

 

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Laviolette did not reveal to the media the starting goaltender for Game 3, which will be at Bridgestone Arena here on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, SN), but said Rinne and Saros know who it will be.

"I said it a couple days ago when everybody was asking about [center Mike Fisher] and [center Craig Smith], I said it then: We don't talk about the lineup," Laviolette said Thursday. "When they ask the next day, we're going to stay consistent with that. We don't discuss the lineup."

Rinne was pulled from Game 2 after Evgeni Malkin scored on a 2-on-1 to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead at 3:28 of the third period. It was the first time he had been pulled from a game in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He entered the series with a .941 save percentage during the playoffs, which has dropped to .929. During the regular season, the 34-year-old had a .918 save percentage. 

He's 1-5-2 with a 3.57 GAA and .880 save percentage in eight regular-season games against Pittsburgh. 

"For me, I treat this as a once in a lifetime opportunity," Rinne said after Game 2. "I've played a long time, and it's the first time [I'm] having a chance to play for the Cup. I think you just have to bury these two games and move ahead and just find a way to find some success."

After the first three rounds, Rinne was considered among the favorites to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the MVP of the playoffs.

"I've been here for six years now, and [Rinne] has been our best player every year, night in and night out," Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "He's an unbelievable athlete, an unbelievable goalie. What he brings to our team, there's nothing that can replace [Rinne]. So no matter what happens, [Rinne] is the man."

Rinne's teammates expect him to rebound if he does start Game 3.

"All of us still have all of the confidence in the world," forward Colton Sissons said. "Without him, we wouldn't be here today. He's our rock back there, and I expect him to be great."

Saros, 22, played 21 games during his first full NHL regular season and had a .923 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average.

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