By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators hold a 3-2 series lead against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Quarter Finals.
With a win Sunday afternoon, the Predators would advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Standing in their way will be a desperate Ducks team trying to force a Game 7 back in Anaheim.
Jerred Smithson, Nashville’s Game 5 overtime hero, says the Predators are ready to give it their all Sunday afternoon. “The most important thing is winning, period, he said, adding, “That’s your goal whether you win it in four or win it in seven, we want to win. We have some guys who are pretty banged up. They have a lot of heart and we will lay it all out there [Sunday].
“It was an emotional game, back and forth”, Vezina nominated goaltender Pekka Rinne said about Game 5’s win.
While the overtime win was the biggest victory in franchise history, the series is not over.
“There is a lot of hockey to be played yet,” Coach Barry Trotz said after practice Saturday afternoon. He expects Anaheim to be a desperate team on Sunday. “It’s all about urgency,” Trotz said when asked what is needed to win a series, adding that Anaheim would have urgency in their game Sunday. “We have to match that urgency,” he said.
Nashville has never won a Game 6, though they have tried three times in 2004, 2008 and 2010. With each previous Game 6 loss, came elimination.
It is a familiar scene for Predators fans to see their team be eliminated on home ice. Detroit won both their series against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena, as did San Jose. Last season, Chicago beat the Predators in six, also in the Predators barn. Now, Nashville has an opportunity to clinch their series at home — and the fans are ready for it.
Keys to the game for the Predators are to score often and early. The team who has scored the first goal of the game has gone on to win all five games. And of course, Nashville also needs to stay out of the box. The Ducks power play is connecting more than 30% of the time during the series. If Nashville gets the lead early and keeps out of the box, they will be a tough team to beat.
The game is sold out. Game time is 5pm CT at Bridgestone Arena.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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