The Penguins scored on the ensuing power play as Crosby set up Justin Schultz, and Pittsburgh comfortably rolled from there with three goals in the first period that chased goaltender Pekka Rinne from the game. Rinne chopped his stick against a goalpost not once, but twice after giving up a fifth and final goal a year ago when Nashville was ousted from the playoffs. He spent his first six seasons with the Preds before they shipped him to Pittsburgh in June 2014. Pittsburgh Penguins' Ron Hainsey, center, celebrates his goal against the Nashville Predators with Evgeni Malkin, left, and Phil Kessel, right, during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, .
"I can't say enough for this group of players", said Sullivan. "We need to do it again to win another game".
So do the Predators, who can't get back to Smashville fast enough. The Predators goalie, who gave up only two goals in two games in Nashville, gave up two goals in his first six minutes.
"I've said it a few times, usually desperation wins the day", said Predators coach Peter Laviolette on Thursday.
That was just Game 7 in the second round. Now, they'll take the show on the road in search of a victory in Pittsburgh in Game Five of the Final at PPG Paints Arena. It was Crosby who sent the message - with his vision, his creativity and, oddly, his fists.
With time winding down in the first period, P.K. Subban wrestled Crosby to the ground and grabbed hold of his leg, preventing Crosby from getting up.
Whether that trade was fated to lead Subban to a victory this season is yet to be seen, but no piece portrays destiny more dramatically than Orff's "O Fortuna".
All Gaudreau has done with the opportunity is become the first player since Johnny Harms with the 1944 Chicago Blackhawks to score the first three goals of his National Hockey League career in a Cup final. "I guess this stuff works we should've started the other guy". "I'm trying to make the most of it. I was in some kind of lock there". The exchange ended with both players heading to the dressing room with minor penalties.
Will Pekka Rinne mirror Games 1-2 or Games 3-4?
Harry Kane cherishes 'special' England equaliser against Scotland
But it wasn't to be as Kane took advantage of Scotland's poor defending to tuck home with seconds remaining on the clock. I've shared the leadership around and that has been important for us as a team.
Saros hardly fared any better. The Predators have rebounded from a 2-0 deficit, winning the last two games by a combined score of 9-2 to even the series at 2-2. That didn't help much as Saros allowed two more goals in the first 8:02.
"It's just one of those things it slipped out of my hand", Crosby said. He sat for the first month of the playoffs before making his postseason debut in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against Anaheim. The road to the Stanley Cup can be a bumpy ride. He put up one of the worst seasons of his career with 18 wins, one shutout and a.909 save percentage in 38 games played.
Nashville has been practically unbeatable on home ice in the postseason and the Predators will once again be supported by a loud-and-proud crowd to lend energy and motivation.
"Obviously not the start you want to have", Rinne said.
This has not been the most grueling of Cup Final schedules. "It's about going back and forth".
The way the Pittsburgh defense is now structured, it can't properly insulate goaltender Matt Murray as it did a year ago.
If Crosby, 29, wins that trophy, he will match the two that Penguins owner and Hall of Fame center Mario Lemieux won. Crosby also moved into a tie with Denis Potvin for 19th on the all-time career playoff scoring list. Teams that win Game Five of a tied series have won the Cup 17 of the previous 24 times. Bonino has been out of the lineup since a leg injury in Game 2.
Rinne, the playoff leader in wins and goals-against average, rebounded in a big way for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville, limiting Pittsburgh to a just two goals on 52 shots as the Predators evened the series.