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5 Keys: Predators at Blues, Game 5

Nashville defense must continue to generate offense; St. Louis aims to score first, play with lead

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

PREDATORS at BLUES

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

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 3-1

ST. LOUIS -- The Nashville Predators can advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time with a win against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Friday.

St. Louis is looking to keep it its season alive. The Blues have won a series after trailing 3-1 twice in their history (1991, Norris Division Semifinals against Detroit Red Wings; 1999 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Phoenix Coyotes).

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:

 

1. Staying focused

The Predators have a chance to accomplish something they've never done before and want to end the series as quickly as possible.

"You try not to think about it too much," goalie Pekka Rinne said. "I think you always know what's at stake and what you're playing for. But still, to me, it's Game 5. ... I believe for us it should be easy to be a more desperate team. We want that so bad. We haven't done it before. There's a lot of reasons for us to be desperate."

Video: A preview of Game 5 between the Predators and Blues

 

2. Score first

The Blues are 4-0 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they score first, 1-4 when they don't. They have allowed the first goal in each game in the series.

St. Louis has led for 3:51, trailed for 124:43, and been tied for 111:26 of 240 minutes played.

"In every playoff game, to get the lead is really big," Blues center Patrik Berglund said. "We've been having good starts. I don't think our starts have been a problem. ... We feel like we're coming off good starts."

 

3. Get offense from defense

The Predators have 12 points (five goals, seven assists) from their defensemen in the series.

"It's a big key," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "We've done a good job with it and hopefully we can do it (again) tonight."

Video: A breakdown of the series between Preds and Blues

 

4. Alexander Steen's availability

Steen did not participate in the morning skate, and Blues coach Mike Yeo would not comment on his status for the game.

Steen has regularly missed practices throughout the playoffs but hasn't missed a game. The forward has been dealing with a lower-body injury, left the arena Friday on crutches, and has regularly worn a walking boot.

"We'll see," Yeo said. "I don't know. I'm not going to talk about the lineup right now."

 
5. Stay physical

The Predators have gotten two game-winning goals from their depth players. But the physical play from Austin Watson, Cody McLeod and Harry Zolnierczyk has also made a difference.

"I think we've matched it pretty well," McLeod said. "We've just got to stay disciplined and keep going. We've got a lot of depth in here. Whoever's in the lineup's getting the job done. We just want to keep doing what we're doing and make sure we come out hard tonight."

Video: Adam Vingan on Preds vying for first WCF appearance

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Harry Zolnierczyk -- Mike Fisher -- Austin Watson

Colin Wilson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Cody McLeod -- Colton Sissons -- Miikka Salomaki

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: PA Parenteau, Vernon Fiddler, Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Marek Mazanec, Frederick Gaudreau, Vladislav Kamenev, Alexandre Carrier, Petter Granberg, Jack Dougherty, Trevor Murphy

Injured: Kevin Fiala (leg), Craig Smith (undisclosed), Pontus Aberg (undisclosed)

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Sobotka -- Patrik Berglund -- Alexander Steen

Magnus Paajarvi -- Jori Lehtera -- David Perron

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Ivan Barbashev, Zach Sanford, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jordan Schmaltz

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

 

Status report

Smith will miss his sixth straight game. ... Aberg will miss his fifth straight game. ... Jaskin was skating in Steen's spot at the morning skate. ... Schwartz and Sobotka were flipped at practice on Thursday but back to the first and second lines respectively on Friday.

 

Who's hot

Ellis has nine points (four goals, five assists) in the playoffs, including five points (three goals, two assists) in this series and has a seven-game point streak. ... Sissons has three assists in the past three games. ... Subban has four points (one goal, three assists) in the series. ... Rinne is 7-1 with a 1.33 goals-against average in eight playoff starts. ... Steen and Schwartz each have seven points (three goals, four assists each) in the playoffs.

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