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The RoundUp

Jake Guentzel among top performers in Game 2 of Final

Honor Roll, Stock Watch from Penguins victory against Predators

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

Who played well in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final? Sometimes it is easy to tell; sometimes it is not. NHL.com graded the players in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 4-1 home victory against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Here are the 10 who stood out the most.

 

Honor Roll

Jake Guentzel (Penguins) -- Two games, two game-winning goals. Don't have to say much else here. But Guentzel also had the goal that tied the game 1-1 late in the first period that took away Nashville's momentum. Guentzel had three shots and was plus-2. 

Matt Murray (Penguins) -- All the rookie does is win. He has 27 decisions in 28 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and has won 20. Bill Durnan won 20 of his first 26 games from 1944-47 and Patrick Roy won 20 of his first 27 from 1986-88. 

Carter Rowney (Penguins) -- A physical presence throughout the game with seven hits, Rowney blocked back-to-back slap shot attempts by Ryan Ellis on a third-period power play and was congratulated when he went to the bench. 

Nick Bonino (Penguins) -- The forward could not skate off the ice after blocking a P.K. Subban slap shot in the first period. First he tried to crawl, then he had to be helped by two teammates to the bench. He returned and won 8-of-13 faceoffs over the final two periods. 

Ian Cole (Penguins) -- The defenseman was involved physically from the start. He had three hits and blocked four shots and even drew a penalty when he took a high stick from Cody McLeod on a 2-on-2 rush in the second period. 

Evgeni Malkin (Penguins) -- The forward did not have a shot for two periods but his first one was a well-placed wrist shot that made it 4-1 and chased goaltender Pekka Rinne. He was engaged all night, playing with emotion and menace. He had three penalties for nine minutes.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm2: Malkin goes bar-down to pad lead

 

Colton Sissons (Predators) -- Dominant in the faceoff circle (19-of-25, 76 percent), he had two shots and three hits. He blocked a shot in the third period that staggered him and sent him from the game.   

Pontus Aberg (Predators) -- The inexperienced forward scored a veteran goal to open the scoring and give Nashville its first lead of the series. The self-pass through the legs of defenseman Olli Maatta was breathtaking. 

James Neal (Predators) -- He did not get rewarded for it, but he was one of the most dangerous players for Nashville, with a team-high seven shots. He also had three hits. 

Mike Fisher (Predators) -- The captain has been a difference-maker since returning from a two-game absence with an unspecified injury. He was good in Game 1 and better in Game 2. He earned his third point of the series on the Aberg goal and had five shots and five hits. 

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm2: Aberg shows patience, goes top shelf

 

 

Stock Watch

Juuse Saros (up) -- Nashville's backup goalie, the rookie made his Stanley Cup debut, replacing Pekka Rinne with 16:38 remaining in the game and saved both shots he faced. A potential power-play goal by Patric Hornqvist was wiped away by a coach's challenge for offside. 

Cam Heyward (up) -- The defensive end from the Pittsburgh Steelers was the biggest celebrity on hand for Game 2. He wore a No. 97 Penguins jersey, the same number he wears for the Steelers. He revved up the crowd even more in the third period with a primal scream when the camera found him in the stands during a stoppage. 

Nashville's discipline (down) -- Three of the first five penalties the Predators took came in the offensive zone. Craig Smith took a cross-checking penalty nearly 200 feet from his own net, Fisher turned a 5-on-3 into a 4-on-3 when he took an interference penalty in the offensive slot and McLeod took a high-sticking penalty. 

Pekka Rinne (down) -- Another tough night for the man who has been the MVP for Nashville through the first three rounds. He allowed four goals on 25 shots through 43:28 on Wednesday before he was pulled. He allowed three goals in a 3:18 span of the third period. In the two games, he has allowed eight goals on 36 shots.

Nashville's penalty kill (up) -- The Predators killed all seven power plays and allowed just two shots on the first five. The Predators have not been scored on in any of the nine 5-on-4 advantages Pittsburgh has had. The Penguins scored on a 5-on-3 in Game 1.

Jeff Jimerson (up) -- The regular national anthem singer for the Penguins for more than two decades performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" for Game 1 and Game 2 and was flawless each time, setting a high bar for the celebrity singer that will perform the anthem for Game 3 in Nashville. 

Alan Jackson (up) -- The country music star is going to perform a pre-game concert outside Bridgestone Arena before Game 3 on Saturday. It should start a party that will rage well past the final horn. 

Pittsburgh's faceoff takers (down) -- The Penguins won 33 of the 77 faceoffs in Game 2 (43 percent). Malkin and Sidney Crosby were the main culprits in that struggle. Malkin won 2-of-10 and Crosby 10-of-29.

 

 

Sights and Sounds

"He's amazing. Sometimes he's quiet but at the right time he's here. A great shooter." -- Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin on Jake Guentzel, who had two goals, including the game-winner, on Wednesday

 

"He's an inspiring guy for our team and a brave kid. When he came back on the bench I know it gave the team a boost." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on the return of Nick Bonino for the start of the second period after being injured blocking a shot late in the first period

 

"We're going back home, we're going to win the next game and then we'll go from there." -- Predators defenseman P.K. Subban making a bold statement for Game 3 on Saturday

 

Tweet from @carrieunderwood: Thanks, @PPGPaintsArena for having us & to all the Pens fans who were super sweet to us!

County superstar Carrie Underwood, the wife of Nashville captain Mike Fisher, with a shout-out for Pittsburgh after watching the first two games at PPG Paints Arena.

 

Tweet from @penguins: Famous fans and clutch goals. Overall, a solid night of playoff hockey. pic.twitter.com/CBi0yL8p1y 

 

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