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Predators counting on 'battle-tested' group against Stars in Game 6

Feel playoff experience can avoid elimination

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators will try to avoid being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN1, TVAS2, FS-TN, FS-SW).

Dallas leads the best-of-7 series 3-2.

The Predators lost 5-3 at home in Game 5 on Saturday and will try to win in Dallas for the second time in the series.

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

Nashville won two games when trailing 3-2 to win in the first round against the Anaheim Ducks in 2016 and won Game 6 against the Winnipeg Jets in the 2018 playoffs on the road when trailing 3-2.

"They're battle-tested, and they're ready for an opportunity like this," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "Now we load the plane and we've got to go out there and we've got to deliver that. I do think that the experiences that we've been through, they make us a little bit tougher in a situation like this. We shouldn't be deer in headlights when a game like this happens. We've been here before."

The Predators will try to remain in tighter formation as they exit the zone to give their defensemen easier passing options on the breakout.

"You've just got to stick together," Nashville forward Filip Forsberg said. "I think that goes for every team in the League. If you look at their team, they're playing a very close-knitted game. They're keeping everybody pretty much around the net. If you can do that, if you can try to keep the whole five guys together as much as you can all over the ice, it's going to be beneficial."

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Perdators defenseman Dan Hamhuis said, "Sometimes you try to do a little bit too much out there and you get away from our system. I think we want to work as a group of five, a unit of five out there, which is playing a little closer together and being able to talk to each other when you are close together. Maybe be a little more patient in our system."

Two challenges for the Predators in Game 6 will be to improve their defensive-zone coverage and puck management, both of which failed them at times in Game 5. 

"We made five pretty big mistakes, and all five of those mistakes ended up in the back of the net," Laviolette said. "There was probably four or five more in the first period where we turned the puck over, and those led to four or five pretty big chances where [Pekka Rinne] made some big saves. Most of what we did [in Game 5], it wasn't a quantity thing. It was more of a quality thing."

Hamhuis said, "Well, we're still in it. We've got a good chance. We've got to win two games, and there is a strong belief in our group that we can do it."  

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