June 01, 2017

Pittsburgh Up 2-0 In 2017 Stanley Cup Final

The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a commanding 2-0 lead in the 2017 Stanley Cup final.

How commanding? Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams that have taken a 2-0 series lead have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 90% of the time (45 of 50 series).

This series continues to lack the emotion of all the series in rounds one, two and three, and has been down right dull for stretches.

It is also a weird one as Nashville appears to be the better team for lengthy stretches of play, only to have the opportunistic Penguins strike quickly.

Jake Guentzel picked up his second goal of the game just 10 seconds into the third period before Scott Wilson and Evgeni Malkin scored 15 seconds apart as Pittsburgh ran away for a 4-1 victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Having game-breaking talent in the likes of Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel can allow for such luxury, but it is the rookie Guentzel who continues to be quite the story. The Nebraska native leads all NHL players with 12 goals.

With the Penguins two wins away from repeating as the Stanley Cup champions, Guentzel is a serious contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy. With Sidney Crosby being relatively quiet since his concussion scare, and with Pittsburgh changing up goalies, playoffs point scoring leader Evgeni Malkin his his main competition should Pittsburgh win the series.

Guentzel's second goal on Wednesday was his second consecutive game winning goal in these finals. He became just the second rookie to collect consecutive game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Final since the NHL assumed full possession of the trophy in 1926-27. The other: Roy Conacher, who potted the winner for the Bruins in Games 3, 4 and 5 in 1939 vs. Toronto.

Guentzel is now two goals behind Dino Ciccarelli's Stanley Cup record of 14 post-season goals by a rookie, set in 1981. He may or may not catch Dino, but he is on pace to become the first NHL rookie to lead all scorers in goals in the Stanley Cup playoff history. The only players who likely could catch him might be Malkin (9 goals) and Filip Forsberg (8 goals).

Guentzel is two points behind Ciccarelli's rookie record of 19 points. He also broke the record for points by a US born rookie, surpassing Joe Mullen and Jeremy Roenick.

Guentzel's strong post-season must rank him among the all time great Stanley Cup rookies, right beside the modern-day likes of Ciccarelli, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy and Claude Lemieux.

Before we go, here's some more Loose Pucks from the NHL's Morning Skate media release:

Jake Guentzel’s goal 10 seconds into the third frame was one second shy of the fastest to begin any period in Stanley Cup Final history. The record of 0:09 was set by Montreal’s Brian Skrudland in overtime of Game 2 in 1986 at CGY.

Guentzel’s second goal also stood as the fastest to begin any period in Penguins playoff history. The previous record of 12 seconds was set by Sidney Crosby on April 14, 2008 at OTT (3rd period) and matched by Crosby in Game 1 of this year’s Second Round at WSH (2nd period).

The Predators suffered consecutive losses for the first time since April 2-4 . . . Penguins forward Chris Kunitz (0-2—2) posted his third straight multi-point performance (2-5—7) . . . Teammate Evgeni Malkin (1-0—1) collected his League-leading 26th point of the postseason (9-17—26 in 21 GP) . . . The Penguins picked up their fifth consecutive home win and ninth of the playoffs, equaling a single-year franchise record

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