PREDATORS at BLACKHAWKS
TV: NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2
Chicago leads best-of-7 series 3-2
If there's any team in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs that's familiar with the mindset of the Nashville Predators right now, it's the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Predators fell behind 3-1 in this Western Conference First Round series against the Blackhawks but have their sights set on tying the series with a Game 6 win at United Center on Saturday. It's a challenge the Blackhawks have overcome three times for coach Joel Quenneville.
Chicago fought back from 3-0 in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks to force Game 7 in a Western Conference Quarterfinal. The Blackhawks fought back from 3-1 in 2013 to force Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings in a conference semifinal. Last season, Chicago trailed 3-1 but forced Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings in the conference final.
"We've been on both sides of it," Quenneville said Friday. "We played in a lot of series that have started in a lot of different fashions, probably almost every single possible way. One thing about our team, the deeper in the series, the more meaningful the games, they rise to the challenge and the occasion. [The Predators] rose to the occasion in that third period [of Game 5], played accordingly, and we need to have that same fighting attitude [in Game 6]."
Nashville has the most pressure to win, inherently, but the Predators might try to shift some of it to the Blackhawks by saying Chicago doesn't want to take its chances in Game 7 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday. (The Blackhawks lost Game 7 to the Canucks in 2011, defeated the Red Wings in 2013, and lost to the Kings last year.)
One thing the Blackhawks didn't have to do in their comebacks was play without their captain. The Predators have that additional task for the remainder of the series without defenseman Shea Weber. Nashville confirmed Friday that Weber would miss the remainder of the series with a lower-body injury that occurred in the second period of Game 2.
The Predators, who got center Mike Fisher back from a lower-body injury in Game 5, have played the past three games without Weber. They hadn't beaten the Blackhawks without him until extending the series with a 5-2 victory Thursday. The top defense pairing of Seth Jones and Roman Josi has quickly improved since struggling in Game 3, their first game without Weber.
"I think we've played pretty well," Jones said. "It's tough losing a guy like [Weber], but injuries are injuries. Guys are going to get hurt and other guys are going to have to step up. I've had the opportunity to do that, and I think I've done a decent job with managing the game. I'm obviously not used to playing 28 minutes a night every night, so I'm just trying to manage it as best I can. Josi's made it a lot easier for me."