You know, I really should bet on hockey games.
I correctly stated that Pittsburgh would game five, and it would be because their top scorers would break through. And they did. Big time.
Now I'm going to call Nashville to win game six, and Pittsburgh to take the Final in game seven at home. If so, it would be the first Penguins Stanley Cup victory on home ice!
Here's the news and notes from the NHL's Morning Skate media release.
TOP SCORERS POWER PENGUINS TO GAME 5 WIN, 3-2 SERIES LEAD
Evgeni Malkin (1-1—2), Sidney Crosby (0-3—3) and Phil Kessel (1-2—3) – the top three scorers, respectively, this postseason – each registered multiple points to lead the Penguins to a 3-2 series edge in the Stanley Cup Final.
* Malkin (10-18—28) posted his League-leading 27th and 28th points of the playoffs, reaching the 10-goal milestone for the third time in his 10 career postseasons (also 2009: 14 and 2008: 10). Only two other Penguins players have as many playoff years with 10 or more goals: Mario Lemieux (4x) and Jaromir Jagr (3x).
* Crosby (8-19—27) recorded his 56th career multi-point postseason game (147 GP), tied for fourth in NHL history with Paul Coffey (194 GP) and Glenn Anderson (225 GP). Crosby (4-16—20 in 24 GP) also surpassed Lemieux (10-9—19 in 9 GP) for the most career points by a Penguins player in the Stanley Cup Final.
* Kessel (8-15—23) added his fifth career three-point playoff game (70 GP), four of which have come in the last two years (48 GP). That includes two earlier this postseason, in Game 5 of the First Round vs. CBJ (1-2—3) and Game 2 of the Second Round at WSH (2-1—3).
HOME SWEET HOME
* The home team has won the opening five games of the Stanley Cup Final, the 12th such occurrence since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939 (and first since 2011). Three of the prior 11 such instances featured the home team winning all seven games of the series, in 1955 (DET vs. MTL), 1965 (MTL vs. CHI) and 2003 (NJD vs. ANA).
* Home teams have won 38 of the past 54 games in the Stanley Cup Final dating to 2009 (70.4%). The Penguins now have won 13 of their 17 all-time home games in the Stanley Cup Final, including five of six over the past two years.
* The Penguins have won 10 of their 13 total home games this postseason, a franchise record. Only four teams in NHL history have earned more such victories in a single playoff year: the 2003 Devils (12), 1988 Oilers (11), 2009 Red Wings (11) and 2013 Blackhawks (11).
* The home team owns a 24-6 goals advantage thus far in the Stanley Cup Final (PIT: 15-4, NSH: 9-2).
MURRAY, PENGUINS JOIN RARE COMPANY
Matt Murray made 24 saves to guide the Penguins to a 6-0 win. Only three other teams have posted a shutout victory with as large of a margin in the Stanley Cup Final since the NHL took control of the trophy in 1926-27: the 1947 Canadiens (Game 1 vs. TOR: 6-0 W), 1965 Canadiens (Game 5 vs. CHI: 6-0 W) and 1991 Penguins (Game 6 at MNS: 8-0 W).
The Penguins earned their third shutout in 34 all-time Stanley Cup Final games and first in 25 years. Tom Barrasso registered the other two (both on the road), making 39 saves in the aforementioned series-clinching Game 6 in 1991 at MNS (8-0 W) and 27 saves in Game 3 of the 1992 Final at CHI (1-0 W).
Murray became the third rookie goaltender to record a shutout in the Stanley Cup Final during the League’s expansion era (since 1967-68), joining Montreal’s Patrick Roy (Game 4 of 1986 F vs. CGY) and Carolina’s Cam Ward (Game 2 of 2006 F vs. EDM).
GUENTZEL TIES NHL ROOKIE RECORD
With his second-period assist, Penguins forward Jake Guentzel (13-8—21 in 24 GP) tied the single-year NHL playoff record for points by a rookie, set by Minnesota’s Dino Ciccarelli in 1981 (14-7—21 in 19 GP) and equaled by Philadelphia’s Ville Leino in 2010 (7-14—21 in 19 GP).
Guentzel, who already owns the NHL rookie mark for game-winning tallies in a single postseason (5), remains one goal behind Ciccarelli’s overall rookie record established in 1981 (14).
GAME 5 TREND
The team that has won Game 5 after a split of the opening four contests of the Final has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 17 of 24 prior times (70.8%) since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939.
However, the team that has lost Game 5 has rebounded to win the series in four of the past eight such instances, all since 2001 (2001 COL, 2004 TBL, 2009 PIT and 2011 BOS).
DID YOU KNOW?
Teams that have lost by six or more goals have bounced back to win the following game in all three prior instances this postseason: the Oilers in the First Round vs. SJS (lost 7-0 in Game 4, won 4-3 in OT in Game 5), Ducks in the Second Round vs. EDM (lost 7-1 in Game 6, won 2-1 in Game 7) and Senators in the Conference Finals vs. PIT (lost 7-0 in Game 5, won 2-1 in Game 6).
Pittsburgh has outscored Nashville 9-2 in the first period of the Stanley Cup Final . . . Penguins captain Sidney Crosby leads all players with 1-6—7 in the Stanley Cup Final . . . Twelve different Pittsburgh players registered at least one point in Game 5 . . . Penguins forward Conor Sheary celebrated his 25th birthday with his fourth career Stanley Cup Final goal (11 GP) . . . Teammate Ron Hainsey (1-1—2) notched his first career multi-point playoff game (24 GP)