Nashville, Tenn. • Frederick Gaudreau sure is doing his best to earn his own locker with the Nashville Predators with a Stanley Cup Final debut for the ages.
An undrafted free agent playing just his sixth postseason game, Gaudreau scored the go-ahead goal 3:45 into the second period and Pekka Rinne made 23 often-spectacular saves as the Predators beat the Penguins 4-1 on Monday night to even the series at 2-2.
It’s now a best-of-three sprint to the Stanley Cup, and Nashville is riding a wave of momentum after outscoring the defending champions 9-2 in the Games 3 and 4 of their Final debut. Game 5 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
Gaudreau, a 24-year-old rookie, only has a chair in the Predators’ locker room, but he now is the second player in NHL history to score his first three career goals in a Stanley Cup Final, joining Johnny Harms with the 1944 Blackhawks. Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, which improved to 9-1 at home and roared back after dropping the first two games of the series on the road.
“We were in a tough hole against a really good team, came home and took care of the home games with the help of all our great fans,” Rinne said. “It’s a great feeling. We played two really good games.”
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