With the Stanley Cup finals schedule putting the teams back in Nashville on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins face an uphill battle to regain momentum. The Predators used their hometown advantage Saturday night to put a dent in the lead held by the Penguins, taking home a sizeable victory of 5-1 during Game 3. The Penguins head into Monday night's Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead over the Predators.
If the Predators earn another victory on Monday night and tie things up, Stanley Cup fans will have to wait until Thursday to see who regains the lead. Here is how the rest of the schedule looks for the series going into Game 4, according to ESPN.com.
Game 4: Pittsburgh at Nashville, Monday, June 5, 8 p.m.Game 5: Nashville at Pittsburgh, Thursday, June 8, 8 p.m.Game 6: Pittsburgh at Nashville, Sunday, June 11, 8 p.m.Game 7: Nashville at Pittsburgh, Wednesday, June 14, 8 p.m.
Remember to set your clocks for the Eastern time zone, as that's when the schedule is set. While it's now guaranteed that there will be at least five games in the series since the Predators won Saturday night, Games 6 and 7 will go ahead only if necessary.
The Predators' victory on Saturday night came despite an early lead by the Penguins, who scored a mere three minutes into the first period.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said the team was perhaps too easy on its opponents, according to the CBC, but the reigning Stanley Cup champions will take the loss in stride. Sullivan asserted that the team could handle the setback.
Awwww yeahhhhh! #Preds take the Game 3 W by a score of 5-1. See ya Monday! #PITvsNSH pic.twitter.com/95jUozqsuz
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) June 4, 2017
"I thought we gave them a couple of freebies where we didn't force them to have to work for it and that's an area we've got to be better moving forward. We're disappointed we didn't get the result, but we also understand that this is a series. Our guys, they've been through this. They can draw on their experience. We're not going to let this certainly get us down. We're going to learn from it, move by it and get ready for the next game."
Not our night. On to Game Four.The Predators' James Neal, who got one goal out of his team's five scores Saturday night, credited their own elevated game play for the victory, as he told the CBC.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 4, 2017
"We played some good hockey in those first two games, just a couple little breakdowns and they jumped all over us and it was in the back of the net. It was a good job of limiting that tonight."He also added that the team worked harder at protecting goalie Pekka Rinne, who made 27 saves during the game.
If both teams seem content to credit the Penguins' ability to capitalize on scoring chances, they are not alone in their assessments. Sports blogger Bryant Fair noted on On the Forecheck before Game 3 that Pittsburgh was leading the series despite having only 37 percent of the scoring chances in the first two games. Fair also noted that the Predators seem to do well on home ice, especially during the Stanley Cup final. They had a record of 7-1 of wins versus losses on home ice during the finals, a record that's up to 8-1 after the win on Saturday night.
ESPN.com also quoted Barry Melrose, who said the Penguins seemed to be playing slow on Saturday.
"They were taking Nashville for granted or something; they don't have the same intensity."Need a refresher on the Stanley Cup final schedule? Just remember Game 4 is Monday in Nashville at 8 p.m. Eastern.
[Featured Image by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]