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Conference Final

Predators greeted by fans at airport after Game 5 win against Ducks

City of Nashville has been captivated by run in 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Hundreds of Nashville Predators fans waited outside of Signature Flight Support to line up and greet the players when they returned from Anaheim on Sunday.

The Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Saturday and returned home with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Game 6 will be played at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

 

[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Predators series coverage]

 

Anticipation and excitement is at an all-time high here with the Predators having an opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their history. Fans were cheering loudly as soon as they saw the Predators get off of the plane.

"It's pretty amazing," Predators forward Colin Wilson said. "Since I've been here, they've always supported us during the playoffs and I think it's escalated a little bit being in the conference final. It's pretty fun to hear them cheering like that."

The Predators' run through the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs has captivated the city of Nashville. Thousands of fans have attended watch parties and lined up outside on the plaza of Bridgestone Arena to watch games, home and road.

Tweet from @TomAWillis: An incredible scene, a thousand or more #Preds fans at the airport to welcome the team back to #Smashville. pic.twitter.com/iF2mLSWXFf

Nashville had a record local television rating of 13.3 for Game 5.

"It's insane," Predators fan Rebeka Wright said. "I've been here at 3:00 in the morning when there was maybe 50 to 100 of us here, and now it feels like there's thousands of us out there. It's incredible to see the growth of hockey in Nashville. It's just everywhere.

"It's insane that not even two or three months ago, you'd see somebody with a Preds hat on and you'd be like, 'Hey!' And now everybody's wearing it, but that's awesome. That's how you grow the sport. This run has brought the Predators to the forefront."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Wilson chips in PPG off the post

The Predators won Game 5 with center Ryan Johansen out because of a thigh injury that will cause him to miss the remainder of the playoffs, and center Mike Fisher out because of an undisclosed injury. The win Saturday gave Predators fans hope they could advance to the Stanley Cup Final at home in Game 6.

"That really showed some true teamwork," Wright said. "Just rearranging everything to replace Johansen and seeing guys step up, guys like [Colin Wilson], [Pontus Aberg] and [Austin Watson], they've all been awesome this season. Just seeing that has been great."

Predators fans reached a sound of 129.4 decibels in Game 4. They could get even louder if the Predators are able to win Monday.

"We're all excited," Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. "It's been so much fun in the playoffs playing in front of our home fans, and we know they'll be loud."

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