Crosby scores, Malkin shoots yet Penguins lose 4-1 to Preds

Nashville Tenn. The Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to play Game 4 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) stops a shot against Nashville Predators left wing Pontus Aberg (46), of Sweden, during the period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Monday, June 5, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. 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.

Prior to the game, a Predators fan tossed a catfish onto the ice. Through the first four games, the Predators top four defensemen in Josi, Subban, Ryan Ellis and Ekholm have equal the points (11) that the Penguins top four skaters in Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Jake Guentzel have. That changed in Game 4, when Arvidsson snapped a 15-game goalless drought in a 4-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He got split up from playing with Phil Kessel and managed just two shots, including a wraparound attempt that Rinne slid somehow slid across and stopped.

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. The Predators weren't shaken then, much like the Penguins aren't shaken now.

Malkin, the leading scorer in the playoffs (26 points), went pointless with only two shots in the two defeats and has been suffocated - all series really - by the Preds' menacing duo of P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm.

Christopher Risher of Plum Pa. paints a fan's face outside PPG Paints Arena before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators Thursday

Many hockey fans were (rightfully) anxious about the change in the crowd atmosphere before Game 5 after two loud and fun games in Nashville, but some traditions, like the catfish, made their way back to Pittsburgh.

The Nashville Predators' top two defensive pairings are among the best in the National Hockey League.

When asked if he was exhausted from going the distance in last year's post-season and playing in the World Cup of Hockey in September, Malkin shook his head.

"I enjoy it. We have a good group of kids and they don't feel like kids anymore after what they went through and what they did past year with Guentzel being the exception", Cullen said. Their first opportunity to do so is Game 5 of the series on Thursday (7 p.m., NBC). "I think he helps our team's speed in a lot of ways". But they'll have to win again in Pittsburgh next week to lift the Stanley Cup. "We came here with the mission to win the game and we didn't have the start or the game we wanted".

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"I thought I was OK in Game 3, obviously not great, but I thought I was pretty good in Game 4", Murray said after practice on Wednesday.

This was a different Pittsburgh team than we had seen in the series - and that included the wins in Games 1 and 2. The Predators in past years have given out a construction worker's hard hat to recognize the best player in a game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that Matt Murray would remain in goal and said that center Nick Bonino was a game-time decision. "They still have home ice". Schultz can go cold-blooded at anytime and blast a goal, but his defensive play is more important right now.

As in Game 1, the Predators returned to the locker room Thursday at first intermission in a 3-0 hole, but it wasn't the product of Penguins puck luck. Pittsburgh added three more tallies in the second stanza, and a third period that included some snarl and frustration concluded a game that didn't play out in Nashville's favor. That's something that we've talked about, how we can just get better at our transition speed.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have faced must-win games this postseason.

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