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Predators freeze out Penguins to level Stanley Cup

June 5 (Reuters) - The Nashville Predators breathed new life into the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-1 victory over the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, squaring the NHL championship series at 2-2 with three to play.

Rookie Frederick Gaudreau and Swedes Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville while Finnish goalie Pekke Rinne made 23 saves for the hosts as they won a second consecutive game in the best-of-seven series.

"We're at a point in the season where you sink or swim. Guys have to step up," Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters.

"Those are your only two choices. We need to have guys to continue to play the game at a high level because of where we're at in the season right now.

14 PHOTOS
The 2017 Stanley Cup Finals -- Predators vs. Penguins
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The 2017 Stanley Cup Finals -- Predators vs. Penguins
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Nashville Predators 2-0 to win the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: Members of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate in the bench area in the third period of Game Six of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Penguins defeated the Predators 2-0. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: Viktor Arvidsson #38 of the Nashville Predators reacts against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Six of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after scoring against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators during the third period in Game Six of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Jun 11, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Catfish are thrown on the ice before game six of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; A general view as hockey fans gather on Broadway before the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Goaltender Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a save as ice sprays during the second period of Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators celebrates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (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)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 31: A Pittsburgh Penguins fan reacts after a goal during the third period in Game Two of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena on May 31, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 31: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the third period in Game Two of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena on May 31, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 31: Ryan Ellis #4 of the Nashville Predators hits Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of Game Two of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena on May 31, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvannia. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 03: James Neal #18 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with his teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins 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: Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes the toe save on Frederick Gaudreau #32 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Predators defeated the Penguins 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Gaudreau scored what proved to be the game winner early in the second period but his wraparound goal was only awarded after a random horn sounded 35 seconds later to stop play and initiate a video review.

The goal, which came seconds after Rinne stoned Chris Kunitz on a breakaway, initially appeared to be stopped by a stellar save from Penguins goalie Matt Murray but replays showed the puck crossed the goal line by about an inch.

Arvidsson gave the Predators some breathing room with seven minutes left in the period when he streaked in on a breakaway and beat Murray on his glove side with a laser-like wrist shot.

From there, Rinne, who has picked up his play after allowing a combined eight goals in the first two games of the series, stymied the Penguins attack, while Forsberg sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the game's closing minutes.

"Obviously it's hard to win when you score one goal," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

"Having said that, I thought tonight, of all the games we played, we generated the most chances and the highest quality. It didn't go in the net for us. We had a number of Grade A opportunities, a couple of breakaways, flurries around the net."

Nashville had opened the scoring with about five minutes left in the first period when Jarnkrok flipped a rebound over the leg of a sprawling Murray shortly after a failed clearing attempt.

Pittsburgh responded 66 seconds later when Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the series, breaking in alone and using a nifty deke to beat Rinne.

Game Five is in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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