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Penguins stress need for fast start to pivotal Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final

June 2 (Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Penguins are in control of the Stanley Cup Final but are aware of the challenge that awaits when the series shifts to Nashville where the Predators have been near perfect during the NHL playoffs.

The Predators' Bridgestone Arena is one of the NHL's loudest venues and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said his team fully expects a raucous crowd to help Nashville get off to a flying start in Saturday's pivotal Game Three.

"This time of year you are going to get that in any building but they have played really well there and fed off their crowd so our start is going to be important," Crosby told reporters on Friday.

Pittsburgh lead the NHL's best-of-seven championship 2-0 but will be put the test in the Music City on Saturday where the Predators have lost just once in eight postseason games this year.

Crosby, the second-leading scorer in the 2017 postseason with 22 points, said even though his Penguins are holding a comfortable series lead they cannot get complacent.

See images from Game 3:

19 PHOTOS
Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 - Penguins vs. Predators
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Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 - Penguins vs. Predators
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: The Nashville Predators are introduced prior to Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) warms up before game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; A general view of the crowd outside of the arena prior game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center Filip Forsberg (9) warms up before game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; A general view of the crowd outside of the arena prior game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators fans hold up signs before game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Fans sit in a bar prior to game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with teammates after scoring a first period goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a first period goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators takes the ice prior to Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with teammates after scoring a first period goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators (not pictured) in Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: The Nashville Predators take the ice prior to Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a first period goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on prior to Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: The Nashville Predators warm up prior to Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) makes a save on a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins center Jake Guentzel (59) during the second period in game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) gets sprayed with ice and snow by Nashville Predators right wing P.A. Parenteau (11) during the third period in game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators left wing James Neal (18) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
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"Our desperation level has got to be there from the start," said Crosby. "We're focused on just making sure that we can set the tone as best we can and that has been our focus on the road for a long time, especially in the playoffs, and we'll have to approach it the same way going there."

While Pittsburgh, who have five road wins in nine playoff games, are two wins shy of repeating as Stanley Cup champions, they have been largely outplayed in the Final but have managed to take advantage of some brief defensive lapses by the Predators.

The Penguins scored three goals in a four-minute flurry late in the first period of Game One for a 3-0 lead before hanging on for a 5-3 victory. Two nights later they used a three-minute stretch early in the third to blow open a tight game.

Crosby said the Predators, who entered the playoffs as the lowest seed in the Western Conference, are everything the Penguins expected.

"They're fast, their (defense) are really good at joining the play, creating offense and I think their speed kind of allows them to check and be on pucks quick so that's what we expected to see," said Crosby. (Editing by Gene Cherry)


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