Pittsburgh Penguins survive rally to claim Stanley Cup opener over Nashville Predators
May 29 (Reuters) - Jake Guentzel scored a tie-breaking goal with three minutes remaining as the Pittsburgh Penguins survived a furious Nashville Predators rally to eke out a 5-3 victory in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday.
Guentzel's goal ended an incredible shooting drought of 37 minutes for the defending Stanley Cup champions as Nick Bonino's empty-netter, his second goal of the game, completed the scoring with 1:02 remaining at a relieved PPG Paints Arena.
Game Two of the best-of-seven series is also in Pittsburgh on Wednesday before the teams head to Nashville, who are the eighth seed in the Western Conference, for the next two contests.
Pittsburgh was surprisingly out-shot 26-12 on home ice, not managing a single attempt in the second period and for most of the third, but goaltender Matt Murray stayed busy and stopped 23 of the Predators' attempts.
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne allowed four goals on 11 shots.
Pittsburgh started the game strongly with Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and Bonino all scoring in the first before Ryan Ellis broke through for Nashville in the second to make it 3-1.
A shot by Nashville's Roman Josi glanced in off Colton Sissons for a power-play goal at 10:06 of the third to cut the lead to 3-2 as the home crowd began to grow restless.
Pittsburgh continued their shot-shy phase through a power-play before Nashville's Austin Watson fed Frederick Gaudreau for a one-timer that went under Murray's pads to tie the score at 3-3 and silence the arena.
The tension was eased, however, when rookie Guentzel snapped a personal eight-game drought to score his playoff-leading 10th goal that gave the Penguins a lead they would not relinquish.
Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had two assists for Pittsburgh, who are attempting to become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98. (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)