Crosby's wild night puts Penguins one win from Cup

The Penguins captain responded in a big way during Pittsburgh's 6-0 Game Five win over Nashville, recording three assists.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary also scored for the Penguins, who have outscored Nashville 15-4 in Pittsburgh.

Undoubtedly Nashville will find confidence in its 8-1 record at Bridgestone Arena and its combined 9-2 goal differential in Games 3-4, but what then?

The Predators could be down another center for Sunday's do-or-die Game 6 against the Penguins, but it's highly unlikely. The team that has won Game 5 in a 2-2 series has gone on to win the Cup 71 percent (17 of 24) of the time since 1939.

Pens goaltender Matt Murray recovered from his tough time in Nashville to make 24 stops in the shutout. His nightmare in Pittsburgh in this series continued after he surrendered three goals on nine shots in the opening period.

Malkin scored on the resulting four-on-four to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

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"You can see his drive and his appetite to win", Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby. He set the tone, both offensively and physically.

Phil Kessel, who went six games without scoring, had a goal and two assists. "I think everybody fed off that a bit as far as we were going to be aggressive and go and get it". "I don't think that they were necessarily bad goals".

Ron Hainsey, it was speculated by many following Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, would be a good candidate to be removed from the Penguins' lineup, his skating simply not up to par with the Predators' forwards.

All the good mojo Rinne generated while helping Nashville rally to tie the series at 2 vanished in a span of 20 minutes.

Crosby also showed ferocity in the opening period when he got tangled up with Nashville's P.K. Subban during a scrum.

"I'm not an official so I'm not going to judge what's over the line and what's not", Subban said. Crosby and Subban had earned coincidental minors from an incident that gained instant notoriety on social media because Crosby seemed to be mauling Subban, banging the Nashville defenceman's head against the ice.

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"He lost his stick, and he was doing some UFC move on my foot", Crosby said. "I don't know that I've been around an athlete, not just a hockey player, but an athlete that is as driven as Sid is". But this is the playoffs, this is the final, you've got to try and put it behind you as soon as possible.

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette saw things rather differently. "I'm not sure. I disagree with the call".

Rust beat Rinne to the glove side with a backhander a little more than five minutes later and Malkin made it 3-0 with 10.2 seconds left in the first period.

"Tonight it's not really about that", Predators sniper Filip Forsberg said, dismissing any advantage the hosts may have. "It's a big game, we came here with the mission to win the game and we didn't have the start or the game we wanted to". Sheary took a pretty feed from Crosby and sent it by Saros 1:19 into the second to push Pittsburgh's lead to four. By the end, Crosby had three points, two mini-controversies under his belt, and the Stanley Cup within his reach for the third time.

"(Austin Watson) tried to block the shot and it just came through, and after that if you don't pick it up it's too late to react and unfortunately it went in", said Rinne of Schultz's tally.

Maatta and Sissons were scuffling in front of the Pittsburgh net, exchanging shoves, when Maatta appears to slip, falling forward just as Sissons takes a final swipe that landed on the bridge of Maatta's nose.

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