Predators goalie Rinne struggling as Pens take 2-0 lead

Rinne had been the hottest goalie in the playoffs coming into the final, but he's been hit for eight goals on only 36 shots in two games and badly outplayed by Matt Murray, who finished with 37 saves in Game 2.

The Penguins won Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, 4-1, on Wednesday night with a much more commanding performance than their unusual 5-3 win over the Predators in Monday's Game 1. Seconds after an own goal off the left skate of Nashville's Vern Fiddler that was credited to Scott Wilson, Evgeni Malkin beat Rinne to give Pittsburgh a three-goal lead. One came off a Predators defender in front of the net, and the eventual game-winner came after a 37-minute period of no Penguins shots.

Rinne went into the final with the stingiest numbers in net this postseason. And after Rinne had allowed four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he wanted to feel good about his game again.

In both games in this series thus far, Pittsburgh has scored three goals in four-minute stints of time.

Nashville's stout defense has made it tough for Pittsburgh to get shots on goal, and there's no better example of that than the second period of Game 1 when the Penguins recorded ZERO shots on Pekke Rinne.

Guentzel scored on a long, juicy rebound of a Bryan Rust shot just 10 seconds into third period, the quickest goal to start a period in Penguins playoff history. We want more. It's our game. P.K. Subban got into a fight with Evgeni Malkin a few minutes later, and that was the game's final highlight.

It's not much. Unless you're playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. "There's things that we could have done".

Guentzel, who scored the victor in Game 1, now has the second-highest goal total ever recorded by a rookie in one playoff season.

After two periods of Game 2 on Wednesday night, the Predators should've felt confident about their chances of evening their Stanley Cup final series against Pittsburgh.

You could also argue that without Fleury stepping into the breach and carrying the Penguins through the better part of the first three rounds, they aren't even in the Stanley Cup final.

"We've done good things", Laviolette said, per the Associated Press (h/t CBS Sports).

"It's obviously very disappointing right now, but it's a series and we're down 2-0 going home", Rinne said. "If he plays the game the right way, winning puck battles, the wall plays, gaining lines, taking what the game gives you, then when the play is there his instincts will take over because he is a real talented kid". Murray was a standout early, making 18 stops in the first period, none bigger than a larcenous left-pad rob on Filip Forsberg in the closing seconds of the period off a rebound of Aberg's shot.

So the Predators said they could have been better, all of them, and Rinne said his confidence was undamaged, and now they have a mountain to climb. He's now tied with Fleury for the second-most Final wins in Penguins' team history. And with so numerous stars of the Pittsburgh stars rather quiet offensively, it is Guentzel who has managed to be remarkably opportunistic in the first two games of the Cup. The chasm between him and Pekka Rinne at the other end of the ice has been the most prominent reason why the series is going the way it is. Matt Murray was keeping them in the game because the second-year goaltender is as steady as they come, and big besides. The Stanley Cup newbies were disappointed but not dismayed by their Game 1 loss, pointing to the way they carried play for long stretches as tangible proof they weren't just happy to be here.

The barrage started with rookie Jake Guentzel.

The amusing thing about Game 2 is that it started nearly completely the opposite of Game 1. Another late power-play opportunity for the Predators, dished out after a tussle betwen Malkin and Subban, was hardly enough to pull Nashville back into contention, and it certainly did nothing to loosen the pressure on the Preds entering a suddenly must-win Game 3. The Predators have to stick with him for Game 3 but Rinne's sub-par play has become the series' top storyline. Pittsburgh made no lineup changes, meaning LW Carl Hagelin was a healthy scratch.