The Pittsburgh Penguins needed more from their stars. They got more, just not nearly enough against Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in the Stanley Cup Final in eight years, but the Predators beat Pittsburgh 4-1 on Monday night to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
“It’s a game of execution,” Crosby said. “They capitalized on our mistakes and we have to do the same.”
Both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held without a shot in Game 3 — the first time that’s happened to the duo in the same playoff game.
Crosby came out with plenty of energy and got the Penguins on the scoreboard late in the first, converting on a breakaway to even the score at 1 after banking the puck off of the right post, where it was knocked into the goal by Rinne’s skate.
The goal was Crosby’s first in a Final since June 4, 2009, a span of 12 games for the Pittsburgh captain. It was one of four shots on goal for Crosby in the game.
That was all for the Penguins, as Rinne denied chance after chance, many of them saves that the 6-foot-5 Finn struggled to make in Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh, when the Penguins averaged 4.5 goals in winning twice.
His best may have been his stop on Chris Kunitz’s breakaway at 3:29 of the second. The score was tied at 1 at the time, and Nashville rookie Frederick Gaudreau scored Nashville’s second of the game 16 seconds later on a wraparound under the stick of Matt Murray that was not initially called a goal on the ice. A video review confirmed that the puck did cross the line.
Murray, who entered the game 9-0 in the postseason following a Pittsburgh loss, also allowed a first period rebound goal by Calle Jarnkrok and a breakaway goal to Viktor Arvidsson in the third.
Malkin finished with two shots.
“It’s hard to win when you score one goal,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “Having said that, I thought of all of the games we played, we generated the most chances and the highest quality and 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.”
The Penguins head back to Pittsburgh having been outscored 9-2 in Nashville.
Game 5 is Thursday night.
“It’s simple. We’ve got to go home and win a game,” Crosby said. “We can feed off the energy of our crowd and get a boost from that, but when you’re getting into the later stages of the series this time of year, desperation level, motivation level, all of that will be there.”