Scott Wilson scored the Penguins' third goal 3:13 into the third period, and 15 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin added a fourth, chasing Rinne out of the game. The haymakers landed hard. If Game 1 was an unfortunate showing due to some extremely wacky circumstances, Game 2 was the complete opposite for the Predators.
Ryan Ellis doesn't look much like an National Hockey League defenceman. "They're an opportunistic team". But in both games, Pittsburgh got a helping hand from Pekka Rinne, who picked an awfully bad time to play his worst hockey of the playoffs.
Ten seconds into the third period, Guentzel - who delivered the game-winner in Game 1 - notched his second of the game. The most frustrating aspect about playing the Penguins, as Rinne and Nashville have discovered, is that although they can make mistakes and bungle chances and put their own goalie in untenable positions, all those problems can be rendered irrelevant by a few swipes of a stick. "The results aren't there", Ellis said. "You just have to bury these two games and find a way to have some success".
Over in the corner, Rinne was waiting by his stall when the doors opened. Just how Pittsburgh handles the Nashville defence will be central to which team wins the series.
The quick goal surge was enough for Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to send in backup goalie Juuse Saros in to replace Rinne, but the Penguins wouldn't have minded scoring more. And after Rinne had allowed four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he wanted to feel good about his game again. "There's things that we could have done". In the third, the wheels fell off, as Rinne gave up a goal just 10 seconds into the period. Yet there was Malkin, free to choose between the top corner and Phil Kessel on the backdoor, choosing wisely.
One of the guys primarily responsible for Rinne's struggles?
That lead ended with 3:24 left in the first period, when Guentzel scored his first of the night. And a 1-1 tie blown off its hinges.
"The limited chances they've had they've done a good job", Rinne said.
Which allows these underdog Predators even slimmer margins moving forward.
The Penguins and Predators could have the same lineups for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, two nights after a weird start to the series that few could have expected.
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic). Pittsburgh Penguins' Ian Cole, center, checks Nashville Predators' Mike Fisher (12) in front of Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the first period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Wednesday, May 31, 2017.
In Game 2, despite being physically battered and bruised, and badly outshot again, the Penguins did what has become their calling card: winning in all sorts of situations.
"I think our team has an ability to win games different ways", said Sullivan.
"I just tried to make the next save, tried to hold them off as long as possible", Murray said. "Our system's worked all year".
Over the course of nearly any other seven-game stretch for one team in the National Hockey League, it wouldn't be uncommon to see the backup goaltender play once, twice or maybe even three times. Once in awhile it's going to break down. "I would do it a thousand more times, absolutely".