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5 Keys: Predators at Blues, Game 2

Nashville can stay undefeated in playoffs; St. Louis eyes early boost from home crowd

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

PREDATORS at BLUES

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 1-0

ST. LOUIS -- The Nashville Predators will look to take a 2-0 series lead on the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Second Round at Scottrade Center on Friday. 

The Blues are considering Game 2 a must-win situation after losing 4-3 in Game 1.

Vernon Fiddler scored the winning goal with 5:05 remaining to help the Predators remain undefeated in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and take away home-ice advantage in the series.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:

 

1. Blues need more from special teams 

The Blues outshot the Predators 29-19 in 5-on-5 situations in Game 1 but were outshot 13-1 in power-play opportunities. Nashville went 2-for-3 on the power play, and St. Louis was 0-for-1.

"We've got to stay aggressive," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "Any time you put the penalty kill out there a lot, their best players get an opportunity to feel the puck.

"We've got to find a way to generate more power plays, generate some momentum with that. At the end of the Minnesota series, we had some good opportunities in gaining some momentum off the power plays. It's just about momentum as it is about scoring goals."

Video: Preview of the Preds and Blues Game 2

 

2. Keep that winning feeling

The Predators are the first team since the Anaheim Ducks in 2015 to win five straight games to begin the NHL postseason and would love to head back to Bridgestone Arena for Games 3 and 4 with a 2-0 series lead.

"That was probably our best game of the series, was the second one on the road vs. [the Chicago Blackhawks]," Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said of the 5-0 win in the first round. "Tonight, we know we're going to see their best game, and we're going to have to be ready for it."

 

3. Getting offense from second line

The line of Patrik Berglund, Alexander Steen and David Perron  was held without a point for the Blues in Game 1, and Berglund and Perron have combined for four assists in six playoff games.

The Predators will be able to focus more on the Blues' top line of Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz if St. Louis continues to be top-heavy with its scoring.

Video: Darren Pang on the Blues and Sens vs. Rangers matchup

 

4. Find a replacement for Kevin Fiala

The Predators know that the 20-year-old left wing is lost for the remainder of the postseason after breaking his left femur in Game 1.

Now the challenge is finding a replacement for Fiala, who scored two goals in the four-game series against the Blackhawks. It could be injured forwards Craig Smith (lower body) or Calle Jarnkrok (undisclosed).

"All of them really," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of finding a replacement. "If you think about it, we've tried to do it with depth and balance."

 

5. Get the home crowd into it

The Blues felt the Scottrade Center crowd come alive in the third period when they scored twice to tie Game 1 3-3. They want to make the building electric early and thrive off the fan support.

"It would be nice to get them into the game early," Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "We just want to keep grinding until the games over. If it's a one-goal game, it doesn't matter, we'll keep grinding until the buzzer goes, but we want our fans into it right from the get-go."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Schwartz finishes five-hole in front

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Colin Wilson -- Mike Fisher -- James Neal

Craig Smith/Calle Jarnkrok -- Colton Sissons -- PA Parenteau

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Miikka Salomaki, Pontus Aberg, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Kevin Fiala (leg)

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Ivan Barbashev -- Jori Lehtera -- Vladimir Sobotka

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Zach Sanford, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jordan Schmaltz

Injured: Robby Fabbri (knee), Nail Yakupov (lower body)

 

Status report

The Predators, who didn't run line rushes at the morning skate, could have either Smith or Jarnkrok back to replace Fiala. ... Barbashev will play for the first time in three playoff games with Paajarvi a healthy scratch. "Tonight, I want to help the team win the game," Barbashev said. "That's first thing. Just do my best, work hard, winning some puck battles and dig on the forecheck and be a good teammate to win the game."

 

Who's hot

Johansen (one goal, six assists) and Forsberg (three goals, three assists) each has a five-game point streak. Ellis and Subban each has five points (one goal, four assists) in five games. Josi and Arvidsson each has four points (two goals, two assists) in five games. Rinne is 5-0 with a 1.14 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in the playoffs. ... Schwartz has six points (three goals, three assists) in six playoff games. Edmundson (two goals, two assists in six games) is plus-7 the past two games. Allen has a 1.87 GAA and .944 save percentage in six starts.

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