Penguins take command, lead Cup Finals 2-0

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Vying to become the first repeat Stanley Cup champion since Detroit in 1997-98, Pittsburgh, which leads this best-of-seven series by two games to none, is halfway there.

It's not much. Unless you're playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nashville became the first team since the National Hockey League began tracking the stat in 1957 to hold a team without a shot for an entire period during the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 3 between the Predators and the Penguins is scheduled for 7PM CT. Mired in an eight-game goal drought heading into the series, the 22-year-old Nebraskan provided the victor in Game 1 and again in Game 2 when he pounded home a rebound just 10 seconds into the third for his third of the series and 12th of the playoffs.

The 22-year-old Penguins rookie, one season removed from college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha - his hometown - scored two more goals, including scoring the victor for the second straight time in the series.

Just call it a bucket list item — even for those who can't get inside Bridgestone Arena — with the outdoor watch parties and star Alan Jackson giving a free concert before Game 3. "We're going to win the next game, and then we'll move forward".

Only if Rinne turns back into Rinne. Some had even suggested the rookie forward be benched for the beginning of the Stanley Cup Final.

The series continues in Nashville for Games 3 and 4.

The Penguins had a second-period stretch in which they didn't get a shot on goal for just over nine minutes, which was not almost as disastrous as the series opener, in which they went a record 37 minutes without a shot.

Scott Wilson and Evgeni Malkin followed with the other two third-period goals.

Pekka Rinne (down) - Another tough night for the man who has been the MVP for Nashville through the first three rounds.

While the Predators have outshot the Penguins in both games, they find themselves in an 0-2 hole after dropping a 4-1 decision in Game 2 Wednesday night.

"It's very disappointing. I treat this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity", Rinne said. It isn't a problem that has blossomed in the Final; it's been brewing for the entire playoffs.

"There's a stretch they're able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic and that swung two games in their favor", he said. The Predators had 34 scoring chances and 71 shot attempts in the game, yet only turned one of those into a goal off a tremendous individual effort by Pontus Aberg.

Fifty teams have taken a 2-0 series lead since the Stanley Cup final went to a best-of-seven format in 1939.

"Just play a lot of hockey inside my head", he said. Through 60 minutes, they have out-attempted Pittsburgh by 43 and held Malkin and Sidney Crosby to a combined six shots. In all four previous games after losses this postseason, Rinne had allowed four total goals - one in each.

Still, the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist has allowed only 13 goals in eight playoff games at home and his teammates vowed to play better defense.

"When we score one, we don't stop", Malkin said. "So we just thought if we cut his minutes, we'd get more productive minutes from him". "We thrived off that first one though and played a solid third period". Guentzel has five game-winners, the most in history by a first-year player.

With the game tied 1-1 through two periods on goals by Pontus Aberg and Guentzel, it took just 10 seconds into the third for Guentzel - who scored the victor in Game 1 - to get his second of the night.

That wasn't the end of the Penguins' quick start in the period. Cullen was the player who was in the zone ahead of the play as the puck was brought in by Chris Kunitz.

Malkin and Subban get in a fight / hugfest. "For 5 1/2 periods, we like what we did". The Swede dangled the puck around Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and beat Matt Murray at 12:57 of the first period.

Rinne, who had previously not lost two in a row in these playoffs, allowed four goals on 25 shots.

Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray stopped 37 of 38 Nashville shots while waiting for the top offense in this year's playoffs to kick in.