Much has been made about the impenetrable force that has been the Predators defensive unit, guiding an unlikely run to the Western Conference finals.
Sunday was a different story. The Ducks enjoyed a timely offensive breakthrough in the middle of Game 2 and held on for a 5-3 win to even their series at one game apiece as it heads to Nashville. Their four goals scored on an unusually flappable Predators goalie Pekka Rinne were the most in a single game all postseason.
In fact, Rinne had gone 21 starts dating to the regular season without allowing four goals.
He allowed more than two goals just three times in 12 playoff games heading into Monday as the dependable failsafe for the Preds’ blue chip blueliners.
That lead held until Bobby Ryan scored on a 5-on-3 power play with 6:45 remaining in the middle frame, ending a brutal 0-for-29 drought with the man advantage that had hung over the Sens’ heads like a dark cloud the last two series. Pittsburgh was winning the shot battle 34-19.
It wasn’t long into the third period before Mike Hoffman gave Ottawa its first lead since Game 4.
Hoffman gathered the puck near the blue line, skated into the high circle and uncorked an absolute beauty of a shot that caromed off the far-side post and into the net.
Pittsburgh applied plenty of pressure as the third period progressed, but Anderson was an immovable force in net. A Penguins too many men penalty with 4:05 to play all but extinguished their hopes at forcing overtime, coughing up a chance to reach the Stanley Cup Final for a fourth time in 10 years. At least for now.