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5 Keys: Penguins at Predators, Game 3

Nashville needs improved goaltending; Pittsburgh hopes center Nick Bonino can play

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent


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

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 2-0


NASHVILLE -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to take a 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Pittsburgh has scored nine goals in the first two games of the series. Since the Final went to a best-of-7 format in 1939, teams that have taken a 2-0 series lead have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 90 percent of the time (45 of 50).

The Predators are 7-1 at home in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and are hosting a Stanley Cup Final game at Bridgestone Arena for the first time.

Here are 5 keys for Game 3:

1. Bounce-back goaltending

The Predators haven't announced a starting goaltender for Game 3, but Pekka Rinne was first off the ice during the morning skate and is likely to play.  

Rinne has allowed eight goals on 36 shots in the first two games of the series. He was pulled in favor of backup Juuse Saros after allowing four goals on 25 shots in a 4-1 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday.

"We're confident in [Rinne]," defenseman Roman Josi said. "We know what he's able to do. He's been our best player all playoffs long, and we've got to do a better job in front of him, defending a little better in front of him. Like I said, we've got a lot of confidence in him. He's our best player."

Video: Kevin Weekes gives his input for Game 3 with Rinne


2. Nick Bonino's health

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Bonino will be a game-time decision. The center blocked a shot by Predators defenseman P.K. Subban in Game 2 and missed the final 9:26 of the first period before returning for the second. He finished with 16:06 of ice time.

Bonino was seen in a walking boot and on crutches Friday, and he did not participate in the morning skate Saturday. If he can't play, forward Carl Hagelin could be an option. He skated on the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Patric Hornqvist at practice Friday.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Bonino banks goal in off defender


3. Opportunistic offense

Despite being outshot in Games 1 and 2, the Penguins have taken advantage of their limited chances offensively.

The Predators outshot the Penguins 26-12 in Game 1 and 38-27 in Game 2. Regardless, Pittsburgh doesn't feel that's an indication of the way it played during the win Wednesday.

"I do think that shot attempts can be an indication of where the game is being played," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "Although, having said that, the last game we had more offensive zone time than defensive zone time, and we were outshot."


4. Net-front presence

The Predators don't think they've had enough traffic in front of Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and will try to make it more difficult for him to see shots.

"I think just bear down, get a little bit more traffic in front of Murray," forward James Neal said. "He's a good goalie, sees the puck well. For us, I think we've got to go there and get some dirty goals, look for rebounds, get pucks there as much as we can. I think we did a good job of that through spurts of Game 1 and 2, but we definitely have room for improvement and we need to be better because we've got to score."

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm2: Murray stones Aberg, Forsberg in order


5. Use the crowd

The Predators have not lost a Game 3 at home during the 2017 playoffs and will need the energy from the fans at Bridgestone Arena to get off to a quick start.

Game 3 is arguably the biggest sporting event to ever take place in Nashville.


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary -- Carter Rowney -- Scott Wilson

Carl Hagelin -- Matt Cullen -- Patric Hornqvist

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole -- Trevor Daley

Olli Maatta -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: 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 Sesito, Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire

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


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Colton Sissons -- Pontus Aberg

Viktor Arvidsson -- Mike Fisher -- James Neal

Austin Watson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Craig Smith

PA Parenteau -- Frederick Gaudreau -- Harry Zolnierczyk

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Vernon Fiddler, Miikka Salomaki, Cody McLeod, Vladislav Kamenev, Marek Mazanec, Petter Granberg

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


Status report

Each team had an optional morning skate. … Colin Wilson participated in the morning skate for the Predators.


Who's hot

Guentzel has three goals in the series and leads the NHL with 12 goals in the playoffs. No rookie has ever led the playoffs in goal scoring since the League took control of the Stanley Cup in 1926-27. Malkin has two goals in the series and leads the playoffs with 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists). … Aberg has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past four games and scored the only goal for the Predators in Game 2.

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