Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 5-1 loss in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.
*Now we've got ourselves a series. The Nashville Predators reminded everyone why they were the Western Conference champions with a punch-back performance in Game 3 in the first Stanley Cup Final game ever played in the Music City that has cut Pittsburgh's advantage to 2-1.
P.K. Subban's team delivered on his promise that Nashville would win Game 3. His teammates backed him up. It was a total team effort from the Preds as they had five different goal scorers and nine players record a point.
*Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had surrendered eight goals in five-plus periods against Pittsburgh this series, bounced back with a solid performance. Even Rinne's head coach, Peter Laviolette, wouldn't confirm that he would be the starter for Game 3 when asked by the media. But it was Rinne that took the crease to open the game. Even after allowed a goal just 2:46 into the game, Rinne shook it off and turned aside 27 of 28 shots to silence his critics.
*The Pens knew that Bridgestone Arena can be a raucous venue. So they wanted to take the crowd out of the game immediately with a good start. They accomplished that goal, taking an early 1-0 lead just 2:46 into the contest. From there they drew two more power plays in the opening frame, but failed to add on to their lead (more on that next).
*Pittsburgh's inability to expand its lead was the biggest reason this game slipped away. And the ultimate culprit was the power play. The Pens went 0 for 2 in the first period, letting two advantages dissipate. Pittsburgh finished the game 0 for 3 on the man-advantage. Scoring on any of those chances could have been a turning point in the game, but instead they all went for naught.
The power play's lack of production was not an isolated incident in Game 3. The Pens are just 1 for 14 in the entire Cup Final against Nashville. Even worse, they've registered a mere four shots. And the lone goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage. The Pens were able to overcome their power play being a non-factor in Games 1 and 2. But it finally cost them in Game 3.
*The Pens' lackluster play with the puck in the waning seconds of the second period proved costly. Nashville was holding a 2-1 lead as the final minute ticked down. A poor turnover and lack of urgency allowed the Preds to pounce as James Neal scored his first goal of the series with just 22.6 seconds left.
Goals in the first and last minute of periods are always killers. Nashville's third goal was a shot of life into the Preds and crowd while sapping the energy of the Pens. Instead of entering the final period trailing 2-1, Pittsburgh found itself in a two-goal deficit.