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Predators may get Smith back for Game 6

Injured forward skates Sunday; Nashville facing elimination against Anaheim

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE - The Nashville Predators are facing elimination in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena Monday (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN, FS-W, FS-TN), but help could be on the way.

Nashville forward Craig Smith, who had 21 goals in the regular season and scored in a Game 2 victory, skated Sunday and the Predators are hoping he can return to the lineup. Smith hasn't played since leaving in the first period of Game 3 with a lower-body injury. 

"Obviously he's a great asset for us with his speed and skill," Predators captain Shea Weber said Sunday. "I have no idea where he's at, but hopefully he's close and hopefully he's ready." 

Although the Predators have lost three straight games after taking a 2-0 series lead, they aren't discouraged with the way they are playing, particularly in the past two games. 

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Smith rips one past Gibson for a lead

"I guess that's the playoffs," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "It's tough to lose three in a row, but at the same time you've still got to believe in yourself and believe in your team."

The Predators face a must-win situation in Game 6 and understand the pressure that comes along with it. 

"They're not going to wake up and all of the sudden have no clue what's going on or where they're at in the series," coach Peter Laviolette said. "They know exactly what's going on. We've got to focus on our game. I think that's the most important thing. It seems like when we focus on our game and our actions on the ice, and how we play the game and how determined we are to play the game, we usually find success.

"I think that there's a big belief that if we go out and play that way and play determined hockey that we can beat any team in the League. It comes down to not saying it to a camera or saying it in an interview but actually going out on the ice and playing." 

The Ducks were a desperate team when the Predators took a 2-0 lead back to Nashville. The Predators are expecting to have that same desperation level for Game 6 and hope that can be used as an advantage.

"I think desperation is always a really good feeling to have going into a game," Predators forward Colin Wilson said. "It gets you battle ready and it ensures that you're going to be desperate. I think we believe in ourselves, and we want to win at home for the fans and keep things going." 

Nashville will have to figure out a way to solve Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen, who is 3-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .966 save percentage since entering the series in Game 3.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Andersen stops Weber's blast

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