Pittsburgh coach's challenge is first in Stanley Cup Final


The squishy mass went splat at the blue line - and thankfully nobody anxious about challenging whether it was offside.

Nick Bonino's empty-netter, his second goal of the game, ended the scoring with 1:02 remaining.

The Predators came back from a 3-0 deficit and held Pittsburgh without a shot for nearly two straight periods, but five minutes in the first period did too much damage. Down 1-0 in the Cup Final, the Predators will look to steal home-ice advantage before hosting the first Cup Final game in franchise history on Saturday in Game 3. After taking a 3-0 lead in the first period, Pittsburgh gave up three straight goals when they went 36 minutes and 43 seconds without a shot on net.

A primary part of the Penguins' problem was the overuse of stretch passes.

Just ask coach Mike Sullivan.

To the Predators' credit, they demonstrated plenty of resilience and dictated play throughout the final two periods. Sure, the Penguins might be the better team, and most of the time I believe the better team should win because they're, well, better.

Ryan Ellis made the Penguins pay for Ian Cole's roughing penalty by scoring a power-play goal 8:21 into the second period that cut the Predators' deficit to 3-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

It's hard to imagine the Penguins enjoying a better opening period, although it didn't start out that way. Pittsburgh challenged, however, and it was ruled upon review that Filip Forsberg was offside preceding the shot.

Facing the Penguins is about to be a hard feat, but the Predators aren't shying away from the challenge. He leads the playoffs in wins (12), goals against (1.70) and save percentage (94.1). Even though the status of former Predator Patric Hornqvist is uncertain, the Penguins boast the stars and the depth necessary to combat what can only be described as an elite Predators defence. The team also lost Kevin Fiala (SUI) to a broken leg in the second round against St. Louis. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The HabsWorld team share their predictions about the final series, predicting who will win the right to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

Regardless of the outcome of the series, Nashville will make a donation to Operation Stand Down Tennessee, while Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh will make a donation to the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. Murray is a very solid upgrade in net and Malkin looks like he's found a new gear; this, along with solid coaching and some vintage Crosby means they are always a unsafe opponent. Bonino threw a backhand, one-handed attempt at Rinne, and it glanced off the goaltender's stick, off Ekholm and in.

Let's face it, Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux will go down as the two greatest Penguins of all time. But they allowed three goals in the first period for just the fourth time this season, and now they trail for the first time in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The suddenly impregnable Preds kept Pittsburgh from recording a shot on goal for 37 minutes. Rinne appeared jittery, stopping just five of eight shots. Nashville center Mike Fisher had two assists.

The Penguins - who beat Columbus, Washington and Ottawa to get to this point - feature world-class offensive talent and the speed to make their transition game and forecheck tough to handle, even if their defense has used a by-committee format with top defenseman Kris Letang missing the postseason after neck surgery.

And so, in the third period, it was more of the same.

Pittsburgh took just 12 shots the entire game, including not getting a single shot on goal in the second period, which marked the first instance since the National Hockey League started tracking shots for the Stanley Cup in 1957-58. "They're a very opportunistic team, a high-skilled team, and we have to limit our mistakes".