Predators Earn Critical Game 3 Win vs. Penguins; Pekka Rinne Makes 27 Saves

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2017

Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9), of Sweden, and defenseman Yannick Weber (7), of Switzerland, celebrate with right wing Craig Smith (15) after Smith's goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, the Nashville Predators overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 in Game 3 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final on Saturday. 

After the Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead two minutes, 46 seconds into the first period, the Predators scored the final five goals to cut Pittsburgh's series lead to 2-1. 

       

Predators' 2nd-Period Rally

The Predators got the momentum on their side 5:51 into the second period, when Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau scored within 42 seconds of each other. The NHL shared Gaudreau's goal: 

ProHockeyTalk's Mike Halford noted Gaudreau has had quite the whirlwind month:

James Neal got in on the goal-scoring parade in the second period, putting Nashville up 3-1 with 23 seconds remaining before intermission. Craig Smith and Mattias Ekholm added insurance goals in the third period to seal the win. 

The internet had fun with Nashville finally getting reasons to cheer its team in the Stanley Cup Final:

Just as important for the Predators was the bounce-back effort from goalie Pekka Rinne. After allowing eight goals in the first two games, the 34-year-old rebounded with 27 saves on 28 shots and earned his first career victory over the Penguins. 

NHL.com's Robby Stanley was complimentary of Rinne's ability to settle down after that early misstep:

      

Jake Guentzel's Star Keeps Rising

The Penguins got to Rinne early thanks to Jake Guentzel's rebound shot under three minutes into the first period, which gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, as the team relayed on Twitter: 

The 22-year-old Guentzel is having a spectacular postseason coming off a campaign in which he had 33 points in 40 games. He's got 20 points in 22 playoff contests, including four goals in the Stanley Cup Final. 

On the list of accolades for Guentzel, ESPN Stats & Info highlighted this one:

The applause for Guentzel across social media was rapturous:

Any hope the Predators had to win this series depended on their taking Game 3. Only four teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NHL playoffs, and the Penguins looked like an unstoppable machine in their two games at home.

The Predators held serve on their home ice, surpassing their goal total from the first two contests in Saturday's win and improving to 8-1 in front of their fans this postseason. 

Now, the pressure shifts back to the Penguins, who must figure out how to overcome the intimidating presence that is Bridgestone Arena on Monday.