The vibe inside PPG Paints Arena for Game 5 on Thursday night figures to be more anxious than anticipatory after the Predators evened the series at 2-2 with a pair of vintage performances on home ice that sent "Smashville" into a frenzy and delivered a very clear message that the first-timers are a clear threat to become first-time winners.
The Penguins and Predators have provided plenty of drama, from the roller-coaster play of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne to the running feud between Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (2) falls over goalie Matt Murray during the periodagainst the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Monday, June 5, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.
"It's a good game but it's still not done", Malkin said.
Crosby also earned an assist on Kessel's goal, which gave the Penguins a five-goal lead. The big Russian boasts an ugly 39 per cent possession mark in the four games so far with five-on-five scoring chances favouring Nashville 24-8. When the Penguins had just three goals during the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa last month, they scored 10 over the next two to take control.
"He certainly had it going", Hainsey said. "You just keep shooting and hopefully one goes in". This will be a one-goal game, with the under the best wager after cashing in two of the last three.
"Two-out-of-three now. It's pedal down".
Only 91 seconds had ticked off the clock and the rout was already on. Malkin, who had gone without a shot in Game 3, had a goal and assist.
Neither Dumoulin nor Hainsey provide much offense, as the two combined for four goals and 32 points during the regular season.
It's Saros' second appearance of the series after coming in late in Game 2.
Asked how he'd managed to come through previously when under pressure Kessel responded in typical easy-going fashion: "Just do whatever I do".
If Ellis can not play, the Predators would have to rely on either Matt Irwin or Yannick Weber for more minutes. He has only four shots in the series, including a shot-less Game 3.
"It was just one of those games where they were going and we were trying to find it and didn't really get it going at any point", Rinne said.
Some of that started, he believed, with spending more time in the offensive zone and wearing down the top of Nashville's defence.
The absence of Ryan Ellis has added injury to an insulting night for the Predators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins.
Power plays (goals-chances) - Nashville: 0-5; Pittsburgh: 1-4.
Scott Wilson, a rookie winger who's lined up with Malkin occasionally this season, thought he was at his best when he was "feisty".
"As much as it is about skill and speed and all that, it's the work ethic, it's the little things, and I think that's kind of the idea behind that is doing the right thing and working as hard as we can", Ellis said.
The instant one of the Pittsburgh Penguins passes the puck to a teammate, one of the Nashville Predators closes in, taking away any time or space to operate. Let the oompah-pah rhythms be the puck, dancing around the rink at lightning speeds; the cymbal crashes in reverence of the player who is repeatedly body-checked by another 200-pound man and skates on as if it were nothing. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan isn't concerned about Murray. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist allowed eight goals on just 36 shots during the first two games in Pittsburgh. They're now tied in the series 2-2.
He also took the opportunity to talk about getting pointers from Lemieux, who led the Penguins to two Cups as a player.
"I got lucky and got one", Kessel said.