Mike Sullivan says Matt Murray will start for Penguins

Aller  Getty Images

Aller Getty Images

The Stanley Cup Final is down to a best-of-three, as Penguins fans freak out over everything from the goalies to the defense to a catfish being chucked onto their home ice.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will stick with Matt Murray for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final Thursday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET).

The Penguins have home ice, which has proven to play a bigger role than expected in these Finals. That's something that we've talked about, how we can just get better at our transition speed.

The Predators are in a 3-2 hole with Game 6 coming up Sunday night in Nashville.

"He's been unbelievable for us the way he's come in, and he's just been so good, timely goals and composed", Nashville captain Mike Fisher said. Crosby missed one game with a concussion, but at the time there was no way to know how long he'd be out of action. What began as a two-month slog to the Cup is now a three-game dash, one that appears to be a coin flip. They grabbed a 2-1 series lead by crushing the Penguins, 5-1, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. From that, when they did get behind us, not only was there a goal by Crosby, but there was a chance, then a second chance, a third chance, sometimes a fourth chance.

Counting the regular season and playoffs, the Penguins have connected on 25.3 of their power plays at home this year, compared to 19.5 percent on the road. After Thursday, backup Juuse Saros probably doesn't care for it much, either. "It's a big game".

"I don't know that we feel that we're against the ropes", Sullivan said.

It was a familiar showing for Rinne.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, stops a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins center Jake Guentzel (59) during the second period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Monday, June 5, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.

He gave up just two goals in two games, and that was one of the primary reasons the Preds were able to win both games in Tennessee.

Still, Rinne is 0-5 in his career in Pittsburgh.

"The only way you can do your very best to control the outcome is to focus on the process", he said. "It seemed hard for us to get anything going".

Both coaches were asked Thursday morning whether they believe momentum can carry over from one game to the next, though that hasn't been the case in the Final or in most of the previous rounds. He has a.756 save percentage and a 5.41 goals against average on the road, but a.961 save percentage and a 1.0 goals against average at home. After the third goal went by him to end the period, his night was over after allowing three goals on nine shots.

Rinne insisted his confidence isn't shaken though he was disappointed with Thursday's result.

"It's definitely a bit of a mental game", Wilson said of his current issues. "I think you'll see we'll be ready for it".

Crosby started the first-period surge for Pittsburgh when he split Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis on the opening shift of the game and hit the post. Wings Phil Kessel - save for a lone assist in Game 2 - Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin, in his two games back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch, are among those absent from the scoresheet thus far.

Evgeni Malkin is leading the playoffs in scoring with 26 points, but he hasn't added to that total since Game 2. The Sens would go on to win the game 5-1, as Murray allowed only one goal on the next 20 shots. He had played great in the back-to-back road losses. When you win, it is so much fun.

"You come here with the mindset that you knew what happened the first two games, but that's not going to change the way I play or prepare", Rinne said. Center Nick Bonino (ankle) tried to play in Game Four but let the ice in warmups.

If the Pittsburgh Penguins want to re-take the series lead, they are going to need a whole lot more consistency from the stars who power their dazzling offense.

ABOUT THE PENGUINS: In a move that parallels that of Nashville coach Peter Laviolette prior to Game 3, Sullivan refused to reveal the identity of his starting netminder for Game 5 after Matt Murray yielded eight goals on 58 shots in the last two contests. The Penguins won 6-0.

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