Penguins crush Predators, win away fromd efending Stanley Cup title

Colton Sissons

Colton Sissons

Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette and players pause at the bench during the third period in Game 5 of the team's NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

It ended with haymaker after haymaker - both literal and proverbial - from the ever resilient Pittsburgh Penguins. We need to play a better game.

Sissons cross-checked Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta's face inside the final minute of the Predators' 6-0 loss in Game 5 on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

"I watched it play out", Laviolette said.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin scored during a first-period barrage against Pekka Rinne that sent the Nashville goaltender to the bench for the rest of the night, all the good mojo he created during a pair of wins in Games 3 and 4 gone.

"It was just one of those games where they were going and we were trying to find it and didn't really get it going at any point", Rinne said. "At the end of the day, I just gotta play the game and play the game hard".

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan thinks his Penguins have gotten better, calling Game 5 the best they've played yet in this series.

"He was doing some sort of UFC move on my foot", Crosby said. "I don't know what he was trying to do". I don't know what he was trying to do to my ankle.

He continued, "We were cross-checking each other which isn't necessarily right, but I guess on his final swipe at me, it kind of slipped and his head came down".

Subban and Crosby received matching minor penalties on the play, which didn't sit well with Laviolette. Crosby set up the first goal by Pittsburgh 91 seconds into the game Thursday night.

The Penguins can win their second consecutive Stanley Cup with a victory against the Predators on Sunday.

After the game, Crosby said he was trying to free his skate from Subban's clutches.

The Sissons cross-check was the most damaging blow in a game that was the nastiest of the final series so far. They won Game 7 to oust Anaheim in the first round after a victory in Game 6 that started a stretch where the Predators now are 13-1 over their past 14 playoff games in Nashville.

"The real hockey starts now", Subban said.

This may be the Predators' first time in the Stanley Cup Final, but they staved off elimination three times previous year in playing a full 14 games through two rounds. The teams combined for 100 penalty minutes (58 for Nashville, 42 for Pittsburgh).

Nashville's blue line, particularly the top four of Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm, has been tremendous in these playoffs, however Ellis missed a large portion of last night's game with an undisclosed injury.

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