Sidney Crosby was on top of his game, recording three assists, and he has come through in so many big matches throughout his career that it's hard to see Nashville stopping him with the Stanley Cup on the line.
Nashville's Rinne was pulled after only 20 minutes, meanwhile, in another shaky outing in Pittsburgh - one that saw him surrender three goals on only nine shots.
Crosby and Nashville's P.K. Subban got in a tangle on the ice behind the Penguins net late in the first, with Crosby bouncing Subban's helmeted head off the ice. "If he wants to make stuff up, what can I do?" I think to go along with that, he has a drive that I don't think I've ever seen anywhere. "I think just being on the same page, trusting your partner, trusting your teammates of being in the right spot at the right time". There were some other notable things worth mentioning from Game 5. That was just math. "We have to win a road game". There were two strong back-to-back stops, in particular, on James Neal shortly after Bryan Rust scored the second Pittsburgh goal. In the biggest game of the playoffs Crosby rose to the occasion, just like he did past year in the Cup-clinching game against the Sharks after a similarly pedestrian (by his standards) first five games.
Crosby managed the feat in 24 games. His traditional, and frankly out dated views are an embarrassment to hockey, to players, to fans and the NHL as they try to clean up their image.
With 90 seconds left in the first period Thursday night, all that lingering tension came to a boil, leading the face of the National Hockey League to do something unCrosbylike. Hell of a start. He's stopped just 34 of 45 in Pittsburgh during the series.
Crosby said Subban lost his stick and had him in a leg lock while they were tangled in their Game 5 melee.
Whenever it is over, though, this Stanley Cup Final will be remembered for the freakish sideshow that has enveloped Crosby and P.K. Subban. He has been an awesome top six winger for the franchise for a very long time.
While the expectations in places like Pittsburgh are high every year, it's a burden largely shouldered by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins got more of their forwards involved in the scoring - a necessity from their previous two games - with eight of their 12 forwards notching at least a point.
The entire idea of clutch is an interesting thought exercise because it assumes players save their best for when it matters most.
Crosby looked to be upset that there wasn't a penalty called on Nashville and sent a water bottle flying.
Crosby said he was trying to free himself from Subban.
Heady territory for an undrafted free agent once considered too small (6-feet, 179 pounds) to be an impact player at this level.
Both teams spoke of confidence Wednesday entering what has boiled down to a best-of-three series.
Regardless, this series is not over. His points-per-game in the final is 0.83, but his average Game Score (which is built on the same scale) is just 0.59. The Penguins will be looking to give Predator fans a chance to see it up close and personal. But the series is far from finished. If you hate Sidney Crosby, you'll point to this as to why he's a colossal POS. He tied Paul Coffey and Glenn Anderson, and only trails Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky.
"I think both teams have gotten better throughout the series, and that's expected", Predators winger James Neal said.
The Penguins may have limped here, but the Penguins are the champs. "You're in the Cup final, this is what it's all about".