Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins moved within one game of defending last year’s championship. Their absolute rout sent a clear message to the Nashville Predators to wake up for Game 6.

This is what is at stake tonight in the heart of Tennessee.

No Messing Around for Pittsburgh in Game 5

Falling right in line with the home ice advantage theme, the Penguins came out swinging for the fences. Justin Schultz capitalized on the first power play opportunity of the game just 1:31 into the game. Five minutes later, Bryan Rust collected a pass from Kunitz and slid it under Pekka Rinne’s pads. Just before the period ended, Evgeni Malkin gave his team a 3-0 lead on a pass from Phil Kessel.

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette pulled Rinne after just one period and brought in Juuse Saros. Unfortunately, Saros did not fair any better.

Pittsburgh scored three more times in the second period. Conor Sheary, Kessel and Ron Hainsey contributed their efforts to the cause.

No goals were tallied during the third period, thus the score remained 6-0.

Matt Murray earned his second shutout of the 2017 postseason.

Crosby Sets the Tone

Over the previous two games, in Nashville, Sidney Crosby unintentionally avoided the limelight. Thursday, he ended up with three assists, increasing his overall postseason point total to 27.

He became the spark plug when he forced Nashville to commit a holding penalty within the first minute of play. Later in the same period, Crosby tussled with P.K. Subban. The fight resulted in minor holding penalties for both players, but displayed the physicality Pittsburgh would use.

Teammate Phil Kessel had a big night as well. He scored one goal and assisted on two others and ended his six-game scoring drought.

Back to “Smashville”

As the series shifts back to Nashville tonight, the Predators need to summon the strength they showed in games three and four. The offense could not get anything going Thursday in Pittsburgh. If they want to stretch the series to the full seven games, they must find a way to turn their scoring luck around.

On defense, Rinne needs to be sharp in net. His defenders also have to help him out as best they can. Players like Subban and Roman Josi must step-up, particularly with Ryan Ellis’ status in-question. Ellis left Game 5 with an upper body injury.

By early tomorrow morning, pundits will either be singing the praises of the back-to-back champs or discussing potential outcomes for Game 7.

Claudia Ceva is a Staff Writer for TheSportsBlaze.com.

About The Author

Claudia Ceva
College Basketball Writer

Claudia Ceva is a graduate of Syracuse University where she majored in Communication & Rhetorical Studies. Claudia is a beat writer for the Syracuse women's soccer team over at SB Nation's "Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician." When she's not writing, you can find her rooting for the Orange, New York Giants, Yankees, New York Rangers, and Knicks in-person or at home. She also dabbles in the musical arts in her spare time, when there are no games to watch.

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