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Penguins vs. Predators Game 3 Picks

Hockey Predictions

Pekka Rinne has to be the loneliest man in Tennessee right now. After spending a month and a half as the most valuable player in the entire postseason, he's been the worst player on the ice in the Stanley Cup Finals. As a result, his Nashville Predators are in an 0-2 series hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they're effectively facing a must-win situation at home on Saturday night in Game 3 of this series.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators Game 3
Date and Time
: Saturday, June 3, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
NHL Playoff Odds: Predators -135, O/U 5
Penguins vs. Predators Game 3 TV Coverage: NBC Sports Network

In the first three rounds of the playoffs, Rinne was fantastic, allowing just a total of 28 goals in 16 games. Here in the Stanley Cup Finals, he's already let eight get by him. Worse is that he's only faced a total of 36 shots, a dreadful .778 save percentage.

The argument could certainly be made that Peter Laviolette should turn the net over to Juuse Saros. There's a big issue with the 22-year old, though. He had never appeared in a playoff game, let alone a Stanley Cup Finals game before Game 2 of this series, and he has only made 20 starts in his entire career at the top flight.

Still, Nashville has to figure something out in net. The rest of its team's efforts have been spot on throughout. The Predators have outshot the Penguins. They've outhit the Penguins. They've been awesome in the faceoff circles. And yet they're still in terrible shape.

Pittsburgh couldn't even get a single shot on goal for either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the first two periods of play. Sure, Malkin ultimately scored Pittsburgh's fourth goal in Game 2, its third goal in a span of 3:18 early in the third period, but the two superstars were truly basically silent in the meaningful moments of the game.

But Jake Guentzel has made himself a superstar. He's got the second most goals in a single postseason by a rookie in league history with 12, including three in two games in this series.

Key Factor

Home ice advantage. It's amazing how quickly a series can turn when the venues change in hockey, and "Smashville" has been the toughest place in the league to play here in April and May. June shouldn't be any different. The Predators are 7-1 at home in these playoffs, and their third period marks have been outstanding. On their run of 10 consecutive home playoff wins, they were +13 in the third period. Anaheim put a bit of a ding in that mark, but that shouldn't deter anyone. Bridgestone Arena is a nightmare to try to survive for any team in the league.

Penguins vs. Predators Game 3 Free Picks

Champs are champs for a reason, and Pittsburgh is showing its heart by finding ways to win games where it isn't the better team. Now, it's going to have to find a way to win a game where it may or may not be the better team and will have to fight against the best crowd in the NHL.

It's trite to say that it's time for Pittsburgh's stars to shine, but we think this is the game where it all comes together for Malkin and Crosby on the Pens' two top lines. The Guentzel story has been a nice one, and Matt Murray has been great in the pipes ever since he has gotten back in there, but games like this are won with star power, and Pittsburgh has plenty of it. We suspect both Crosby and Malkin will light the lamp in a decisive victory that will effectively guarantee that at some point in the next several days, Lord Stanley's Cup will once again reside in the Steel City.

Penguins vs. Predators Game 3 Pick: Penguins +115 at
Penguins vs. Predators Game 3 Score Prediction: Penguins 4, Predators 2