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Stanley Cup Final Buzz: Penguins, Predators must make adjustments

Pittsburgh needs to generate more scoring chances; Pekka Rinne can rebound for Nashville

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is Wednesday in Pittsburgh (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers in Pittsburgh will be checking in throughout the day. 
Here is the Stanley Cup Final news for Tuesday:

 

6:20 p.m.
Predators must be even better in Game 2

The Nashville Predators stayed off the ice Tuesday in an effort to assess what happened in their 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday.

Nashville did a lot right in Game 1, but as columnist Nick Cotsonika explains, the Predators should not feel too great about themselves because the Penguins have made a habit of doing this.

Staff writer Lisa Dillman takes a close look at the performance of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had the worst single-game save percentage in a Stanley Cup Playoff game of the expansion era. History and other goaltenders suggest Rinne is primed for a bounce-back performance in Game 2 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Predators rookie forward Frederick Gaudreau scored his first NHL goal in Game 1 to tie it 3-3. He has completed an improbable journey from undrafted rookie to the ECHL to the American Hockey League to the Stanley Cup Final, as LNH.com senior managing editor Arpon Basu writes.

 

5:40 p.m.
Adjustments coming in Game 2

The Pittsburgh Penguins got a 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, but they weren't thrilled with the process of how they got it.

Can you blame them? The Penguins went 37 minutes without a shot on goal. They had 12 shots on goal in the game. They must make some significant adjustments to win again in Game 2 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). Senior writer Dan Rosen wrote about what went wrong for the Penguins and how they can fix it.

Pittsburgh has been outshot plenty of times this postseason, and being without top defenseman Kris Letang has led to some possession struggles. Letang spoke to the media for the first time since having neck surgery last month. Correspondent Wes Crosby writes about the defenseman's progress, recovery and behind-the-scenes role for the Penguins.

Penguins forward Conor Sheary has stepped up in each of the past two games and scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 1. Sheary, who was a healthy scratch for Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, is back on a line with Sidney Crosby and seems to have found his game again.

Former NHL player and assistant coach Doug Lidster has been breaking down the Penguins since the start of the Eastern Conference Final, so he has a good idea of what they need to do after seeing them struggle in certain areas against the Predators. Amalie Benjamin caught up with Lidster to get his thoughts on Pittsburgh's performance in Game 1.

 

10 a.m.
Penguins find a way

The Pittsburgh Penguins could not have asked for a better start to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, or a better ending. The middle wasn't pretty, but they still managed to get a win against the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena.

Jake Guentzel scored with 3:17 left in the third period to break a tie and spark the Penguins to the victory. The goal ended a 37-minute stretch in which the Penguins, after taking a 3-0 lead in the first period, did not have a shot on goal.

Pittsburgh didn't get one shot on goal during the second period, making Nashville the first team to hold an opponent without a shot in a period during a Stanley Cup Final game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1957-58.

That drought allowed Nashville to tie the game at 13:29 of the third period, but Guentzel scored his 10th goal of the playoffs and Nick Bonino added an empty-net goal. The Penguins finished with five goals on 12 shots.

Game 2 in the best-of-7 Final is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Here is a look at what happened Monday:

 

Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Nashville Predators 3

The Penguins did what no other team has done in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: win Game 1 against the Predators. Nashville, which defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks in its three previous Game 1s, trails in a series for the first time this postseason.

The Predators appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the first period, but P.K. Subban's apparent goal was wiped out when the play was deemed offside after a video review.

The Penguins responded with three goals, the first by Evgeni Malkin during a 5-on-3 power play, to take a 3-0 lead after the first period.

Nashville rallied to tie the game, but Guentzel scored his first goal in nine games to save the Penguins.

Despite the win, the Penguins were not happy with their performance, writes NHL.com Columnist Nick Cotsonika.

It was a sweet night for Guentzel, who had struggled to stay score this postseason, writes NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen.

But for Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who finished with seven saves, it was a night to forget, writes NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti.

Video: Guentzel, Bonino lead Pens to 5-3 victory in Game 1

 

Here is what we learned during Game 1:

Shots are overrated

The Penguins do not need shot volume to win playoff games. With 12 shots on goal and 28 attempted shots in Game 1 against the Predators, Pittsburgh scored five goals, including three on eight shots in the first period to take a 3-0 lead. Game 1 of the Final marked the sixth time in this year's playoffs that the Penguins have failed to reach 25 shots in a game. They are 4-2 in those games.

Scoring touch returning for Penguins

Veteran forward Chris Kunitz scored his first goals of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators, including the double-overtime winner. Young forwards Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel regained their scoring touch in Game 1. Sheary had not scored in this year's playoffs, a drought of 16 games, and Guentzel had gone eight playoff games without a goal before scoring the winner with 3:17 remaining in the third period.

Pekka Rinne will be fine

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne had a statistical nightmare in Game 1, allowing four goals on 11 shots, dropping his playoff save percentage from .941 to .934. Numbers aside, there will be no future doubt about Rinne on the Nashville side. He had one game earlier in this year's playoffs when he was off -- a 5-3 loss against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final when he allowed four goals on 26 shots -- but he returned quickly to form. "We have no question about Pekks in net and what he's capable of, and he'll be the backbone of this team," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.

No quit in Nashville

Down 3-0 after the first period of Game 1, the Predators did what they have done throughout in this year's playoffs: They kept coming. Nashville whittled away Pittsburgh's three-goal lead, rallying with two power-play goals and a game-tying goal five seconds after a successful penalty kill in the third period. More importantly, the Predators employed their in-your-face style that has served them well in their run to the Final. Expect more of the same as the series progresses.

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