Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final is Sunday in Nashville (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers in Pittsburgh and Nashville will be checking in throughout the day.
Here is the Stanley Cup Final news for Saturday:
Predators get ready for biggest game of season
The Nashville Predators held an optional practice at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday in preparation for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). Defensemen Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban and right wing James Neal did not participate.
Ellis' status for Game 6 remains unknown after he sustained an unspecified injury in the second period of a 6-0 loss in Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Thursday. NHL.com Correspondent Robby Stanley has the latest on Ellis and what adjustments the Predators might make if he's unavailable Sunday. (https://www.nhl.com/news/predators-ryan-ellis-availability-unclear-for-game-6/c-289870012)
Regardless of whether Ellis plays, the Predators will need a better performance from goaltender Pekka Rinne after he was pulled for the second time in the series in Game 5. NHL.com Columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika wrote about Rinne's focus on rebounding again at home.
NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti looked at the Predators' process of rebuilding their confidence heading into Game 6 with a chance to win the Stanley Cup still very much on their minds. Gulitti also reported on a surprise visit Predators captain Mike Fisher and defenseman Roman Josi made to a young cancer patient on Friday.
Additionally, Predators defenseman Matt Irwin heard about an 11-year-old in his hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, who recently had his hockey equipment stolen,so he worked with CCM to have the equipment replaced.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin among all-time elite tandems
Legendary tandems are so rare in the NHL. It's even rarer when the tandem works together to win the Stanley Cup at least three times, but that's what Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are on the verge of doing. NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen put into perspective what it would mean if the Pittsburgh Penguins' star centers get the job done.
What Penguins goalie Matt Murray is on the verge of doing is historic. He can win the Stanley Cup for the second time while technically a rookie. NHL.com Correspondent Wes Crosby reports that Murray is focused on Game 6, not on the possibility he'll make history.
Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen, on the opposite side of the age spectrum from Murray as a 40-year-old nearing the end of his 19th NHL season, knows he's also close to doing something he never dared dream about. Rosen writes that Game 6 could be Cullen's last in the NHL, and he could go out as a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion.
Video: What the Pens need to do in Game 6 to hoist the Cup
Predators not ready to go home
For the first time in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators must win to extend a series when they take the ice for Game 6 of the Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). A loss means their season is over, but they have no intention of ending their season by watching the Penguins celebrate in their building.
NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti reports the Predators spent part of Friday checking out a horror movie -- their 6-0 loss to the Penguins in Game 5.
Players and coaches know Nashville must come out with a lot more urgency and energy in Game 6 or the Penguins will win the Cup for the second straight season.
One key for Nashville will be to slow down Pittsburgh's trio of star forwards. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel combined for two goals and six assists in Game 5. NHL.com Correspondent Robby Stanley reports the Predators are especially concerned with slowing down Pittsburgh's high-profile players on the rush, and that doing so will take the kind of team defense they played in Games 3 and 4.
Video: Sam Hunt on the Predators and hockey in Nashville
Nashville rookie center Frederick Gaudreau has taken a long route to the Final, but his parents' trip has been even longer. LNH.com Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu spoke to Jean-Pierre Gaudreau and France Desrosiers, who drove from Bromont, Quebec, about 50 miles from Montreal, to Pittsburgh for Games 1 and 2, then on to Nashville for Games 3 and 4. Their reward: Seeing their son score his first three NHL goals.
On the other side, the Penguins say they aren't letting themselves think about the thrill of winning the Cup for the second straight year, only about the effort they'll need to win Game 6. But as NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen reports, that's often easier said than done, and that they need to focus on the process while keeping their eye on the prize.
If it seems like the Penguins have been here before, it's because they have. They went into Game 6 of the Final last year with a 3-2 lead, needing a win at the San Jose Sharks to avoid having to play Game 7. But as NHL.com Correspondent Wes Crosby writes, aside from being in the same position as last season,the 2016 and 2017 Penguins have few similarities; they are missing star defenseman Kris Letang, who scored the Cup-winning goal, and have spent much of the spring battling injuries.
One year ago today, with the Penguins two days away from a championship, the NHL lost one of its icons when Gordie Howe died at the age of 88. NHL.com Columnist Dave Stubbs remembers Mr. Hockey a year after his death, noting that Gordie's son, Marty Howe, still gets emails and calls from people eager to share their stories about his father.
Video: The Penguins' Power Play Resurgence