Stanley Cup Final Update: Preds even series

People were calling for Pekka Rinne to be replaced following the Penguins  4-1 victory last Wednesday in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Rinne allowed four goals on 25 shots and was replaced by Juuse Saros in the third period with the game out of reach. The Predators trailed in the series 2-0 going into Game 3 just a few days ago. Fast forward to just a week later, the Predators are right back in the series and on the cusp of their first championship in franchise history. Thanks to big performances by the 34 year-old Finnish goaltender. Rinne has allowed one goal each in both games in Nashville and has silenced the doubters that suggested he be benched for Game 3. The situation had to have been familiar for Preds coach Peter Laviolette, who had had goalie controversies in his years in Philly. To Laviolette’s credit, it was an easy decision to stick with Rinne as he has been lights out at Bridgestone Arena this entire postseason. In Game 3, the Predator offense came alive after a tough start, leading to a 5-1 beat down in front of a raucous home crowd. But it was Game 4 where Rinne truly shined making a couple of unbelievable saves in net a la Tim Thomas. Rarely has a goaltender single-handedly put his team on his back in a Finals series and believe it or not there are parallels between that Boston team in 2011 and this Nashville club. The Predators became the first team since the Bruins in 2011 to tie the Stanley Cup Final at two after trailing two games to none. Obviously Rinne has been a huge part of the turnaround, but getting goals from unlikely sources has been the Predators specialty in this series. Players like Calle Jarnkrok, Craig Smith are stepping up with huge goals as well as Frederick Gaudreau who in Game 4 became just the second player since 1944 to score his first three career goals in the Cup Final. Even though Filip Forsberg has been relatively quiet, he did pot an empty-netter on Monday night. For a player as talented as he is, just seeing the puck go in could and should give him a confidence boost going into Game 5 and beyond. With the Penguins being at home on Thursday night, they certainly have the advantage as they hope to take a 3-2 series lead. However, the Preds have all the momentum including a hot goaltender that bodes well for them as they look to clinch their first title in team history.

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