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Playoff Buzz: Penguins host Senators in Game 5

Winner will be one victory from advancing to Stanley Cup Final

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impactin­­­g the 2016-17 postseason. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators is Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you the latest news.

Here is the playoff news for Sunday:

 
12:30 p.m.
Penguins try to hold serve at home

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have more than 18,000 fans behind them when they face the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at PPG Paints Arena (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. When teams are even after four games in a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Game 5 winner has an all-time series record of 198-54, including 5-0 this year.

In his 5 Keys, NHL.com correspondent Wes Crosby writes that the Senators need more from their power play, which hasn't scored since the second period in Game 1 of the second round against the New York Rangers, and that the Penguins are still playing with a patchwork defense that will be without Chad Ruhwedel, who sustained a concussion in Game 4.

With several key forwards also battling injuries, the Penguins need their stars to step up. As NHL.com 
staff writer Tom Gulitti notes, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby is leading by example and will be counted on again to provide inspiration.

Former NHL assistant Jim Corsi, who's analyzing the series for NHL.com, tells senior writer Dan Rosen that the Penguins were able to make some key adjustments after a 5-1 loss in Game 3 that helped them win 3-2 in Game 4 - and that it's now the Senators' turn to adjust, adding that "Ottawa has to make Pittsburgh feel uncomfortable."

 

10 a.m. 
Predators find way to win 

The Nashville Predators are one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time, and they got there with a gutsy victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday. 

Playing without No. 1 center Ryan Johansen and captain Mike Fisher, the Predators fell behind early against the Anaheim Ducks, but rallied for the victory. 

The Ducks had to play the final two periods without No. 1 goalie John Gibson, who came out of the game because of a lower-body injury. 

The Predators lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and will go for the clincher at home on Monday. 

Video: Reaction to Preds-Ducks Game 5

 

Here is a look at what happened Saturday: 

Nashville Predators 3, Anaheim Ducks 1

Rookie Pontus Aberg broke a 1-1 tie at 11:01 of the third period and Auston Watson scored an empty-net goal with 48 seconds remaining to push the Predators within one victory of the Cup Final.

Playing without Johansen and Fisher, the Predators fell behind 1-0 on Chris Wagner's goal at 12:46 of the second period but tied the game 1-1 on a goal by Colin Wilson with 41 seconds left in the period.

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 32 saves. Jonathan Bernier, who took over for Gibson at the start of the second period, finished with 16 saves for Anaheim. 

The Predators earned their fifth come-from-behind win this postseason; it's the 31st comeback victory in 77 games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL record for comeback wins in a postseason is 45, set in 1990.

Six of the nine games played in the conference finals have been decided by one goal, with two others decided by two goals following an empty-net score.

NHL.com columnist Nick Cotsonika writes that the win was business as usual for the Predators.

NHL.com staff writer Lisa Dillman notes that the Ducks may be losing their third-period magic

Video: JP Morosi talks with Mattias Ekholm about win

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 38 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: 

Who is Pontus Aberg?

He grew up in Sweden as the son of athletes; his father a former hockey player, his mother a former handball player. The Predators took him in the second round (No. 37) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He improved during three seasons with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League, with 52 points (31 goals, 21 assists) in 56 games this season, and had played 15 NHL games and eight playoff games before Saturday. Aberg's first playoff goal came 11:01 into the third period and was the game-winner. He scored when he crashed the net, tripped over the goalie and put in a rebound as he flew through the air.

Who is Frederick Gaudreau?

Gaudreau had played in nine regular-season and zero playoff games before Saturday. But with Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher injured, the Predators needed help at center. Gaudreau, 24, took 14 faceoffs and won 10 of them (71 percent) while playing an all-around impressive game.

Ducks' depth being tested up front

The Ducks have admirable depth on the blue line, but their depth at forward has been depleted during the playoffs. High-scoring forward Patrick Eaves was injured in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers and hasn't played in three weeks, and Rickard Rakell, a 33-goal scorer during the regular season, missed Game 5 with a lower-body injury. That's a lot of offense gone missing.

Anaheim power play falling short

The Ducks went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 5 and haven't scored with the extra man since Game 3. Two of the four power plays featured excellent puck movement, and the Ducks kept Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne quite busy. Rakell's absence was deeply felt on the power play.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Rinne stones Kesler, Cogliano in 3rd

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