Penguins rout Predators, edge closer to Stanley Cup

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New York (AFP)

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a statement Thursday, moving within one win of a second straight NHL Stanley Cup title with a 6-0 drubbing of the Nashville Predators.

Back home in Pittsburgh after two defeats in Nashville, the Penguins poured it on to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.

Six different players scored and superstar Sidney Crosby had three assists as the Penguins took a 3-2 series lead.

They'll try to close it out in game six on Sunday in Nashville. The home team has won every game in the series so far.

Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Ron Hainsey scored for the Penguins.

Matt Murray made 24 saves while Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots in the first period.

Backup Juuse Saros wasn't much of an improvement, giving up three goals in the second.

Crosby made his presence felt early, weaving down the slot on the game's first shift, firing a shot off the left post and drawing a penalty on Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis.

On the ensuing power play Crosby set up Shultz for a slap shot for a 1-0 Penguins lead 1:31 into the first.

Pittsburgh kept up the pressure and Chris Kunitz set up Rust for a backhander that sailed past Rinne's glove to make it 2-0 at 6:43.

Late in the first, Crosby and Nashvilee's P.K. Subban tangled behidn the Penguins net, with Crosby banging Subban's helmeted head off the ice before both got holding penalties.

On the ensuing four-on-four play, Malkin took a feed from Kessel and fired a shot past Rinne to make it 3-0 with 10.2 seconds left in the first.

Saros replaced Rinne to start the second and quickly surrendered a goal. Crosby set up Sheary in the low slot for a 4-0 Penguins lead at 1:19.

Kessel broke a six-game goal drought when he made it 5-0 and Hainsey made it 6-0 off a feed from Malkin at 16:40 of the second.