Thoughts and observations from the Pens' 5-3 win against the Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
* This team. They always seem to find a way, but man, was that way stressful tonight. The Pens went without a shot on goal for 37 minutes and finished with just 12 in the game, but still managed to score five goals and get a win. It's definitely not how they drew it up, and while I give credit to them for being opportunistic, they didn't play well and were fortunate to get a win in such a bizarre game.
* The Preds outplayed the Pens in the opening minutes, and appeared to get a huge goal from P.K. Subban. But the Pens got a huge break when they decided to use their coach's challenge to argue that Filip Forsberg was offside as he entered the zone to start the sequence. After a video review, it was ruled that he was, in fact, offside and the call was overturned.
* The momentum completely changed at that point. The Pens started to press and put Nashville on their heels, drawing a penalty in the process. And during the delayed call, James Neal crosschecked Trevor Daley in the back - giving Pittsburgh a 5-on-3 for two full minutes with less than five remaining in the period. And while the two-man advantage got off to a rough start, Evgeni Malkin said 'enough is enough.' He wound up and beat Pekka Rinne with a slapshot.
* From there, the floodgates opened. Conor Sheary scored just over a minute later and Nick Bonino (who tallied twice tonight) got one with 17 seconds left to give the Pens three goals in a span of 4:11 to finish the period. Jake Guentzel rounded out the scoring, and it was awesome to see guys who had been experiencing dry spells break through in this game. As Mike Sullivan said, they got big plays at key times.
* However, the floodgates slammed shut when the buzzer sounded. The Pens didn't record a shot on goal in the second, going an entire period without putting the puck on net for the first time in franchise history. They talked in the first intermission about staying on their toes, playing the game the right way and making sure that they didn't sit on the lead, but weren't able to go out and execute any of that.
* The drought continued into the final frame and didn't end until Guentzel scored on their first shot with 3:17 to play. The Preds did a good job of getting bodies and sticks in lanes. But the Pens also tried to force plays that weren't there and passed up opportunities to take shots. It's such a testament to this team that we've come to expect them to always respond the right way to adversity and I thought for sure they'd come out with a much better third, but they just didn't have it tonight.
* Guentzel and Bonino, who scored twice, spoke at the podium together following the game. And after Guentzel answered questions from reporters about his slump, Bonino pointed out that he had gone just as long without finding the back of the net. Neither of his goals were pretty tonight - his first went off the goalie, a defenseman and in while his second was an empty-netter - but he and the Pens will take them.
* It didn't help that the Pens took a couple of undisciplined penalties and paid for it, as Nashville went 2-for-3 on the power play. The Pens' PK has done a tremendous job all postseason, but tonight the team asked too much of them and they need to do a better job at staying out of the box moving forward.