Penguins are one game away from another Stanley Cup title after piling it on the Predators 6-0

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one victory away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions, a feat no NHL team has pulled off since 1998.

Sidney Crosby set an energetic and determined tone from the outset on Thursday and set up three goals as the Penguins routed the Nashville Predators, 6-0, at PPG Paints Arena to put themselves in position to claim the Cup on Sunday. The Predators, whose unlikely journey from No. 8 seed in the West to Stanley Cup finalist has captivated the city of Nashville and made them a sentimental favorite — except in Pittsburgh — now must rely on their home-ice success to prolong the series. The Predators are 9-1 at Bridgestone Arena, where Penguins goalie Matt Murray gave up eight goals on 58 shots in losing to Nashville in Games 3-4.

The last NHL team to repeat as champion was the 1998 Detroit Red Wings.

The Penguins’ stunning first-period performance led Predators coach Peter Laviolette to remove goaltender Pekka Rinne and replace him with backup Juuse Saros. Rinne gave up three goals on nine shots and in 2 1/3 games at Pittsburgh was torched for 11 goals on 45 shots. Playing at home in Games 3 and 4 he stopped 50 of 52 shots, and he must regain that form in order for the Predators to force a seventh game next Wednesday at Pittsburgh.

Crosby had a busy night beyond his three assists. He was involved in a tussle with Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban late in the first period and appeared to repeatedly push Subban’s head onto the ice as they locked limbs, a strange action by someone who has suffered from several concussions. Also, Crosby appeared to throw a water bottle onto the ice from the bench during the second period when the officials didn’t call a penalty on the Predators for a hit on teammate Chris Kunitz, but he wasn’t caught or penalized for that.