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Stanley Cup Final

Penguins will play Predators in Stanley Cup Final

Defending champion Pittsburgh has home-ice advantage, will host Game 1 on Monday

by Mike Battaglino / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Game 1 is at Pittsburgh on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

The Penguins, the defending Stanley Cup champions, advanced with a 3-2, double-overtime win against the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday.

Pittsburgh can become the first repeat champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.

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"You just think of it as a great opportunity," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby told NBC Sports. "We don't really look at it as back to back. There's different guys here, but this is what you work hard for all year, to give yourself a chance to play, and this situation is not something that happens very often, so it's a great opportunity for us."

The Predators advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time with a 6-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Monday.

The Penguins have home-ice advantage in the series, with 111 regular-season points compared to the Predators' 94.

"We have to make sure we're prepared for another different type of team," said Penguins forward Chris Kunitz, who scored the winning goal Thursday. "They have a speed team that's going to come at you with some active [defensemen] ... with a great goaltender.

"We're going to have to come out and figure a game plan to play with speed, play with pace and try to dictate a Penguins game."

Pittsburgh has four of the top six scorers in this postseason: forwards Evgeni Malkin (24 points, leads the playoffs), Crosby (20), Phil Kessel (19) and Jake Guentzel (16).

Goalie Matt Murray won three out of four games since returning in Game 4 against Ottawa. After Murray was injured prior to Game 1 of the five-game, first-round win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Marc-Andre Fleury went 9-6 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, including a 2-0 win in Game 7 of the second round against the Washington Capitals.

Nashville is led by forward Filip Forsberg, who has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) and a seven-game point streak. Center Ryan Johansen had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) before he was lost for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a left leg injury that required emergency surgery following Game 4 against the Ducks.

Pekka Rinne is 12-4 with a 1.70 GAA and .941 save percentage, including every game of a first-round sweep against the Chicago Blackhawks and a six-game, second-round win against the St. Louis Blues.

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"It's a dream come true," Rinne told the Predators website. "But it's a funny thing, though. With everything that's happening around us, you still feel hungry, and now we have a chance to play for the Cup. It's a pretty amazing feeling. And you've been working for that for a long, long time."

The Penguins and Predators split two regular-season games, each winning at home. Nashville defeated Pittsburgh 5-1 on Oct. 22; the Penguins won 4-2 on Jan. 31.

Former Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist (2008-14) had three points (two goals, one assist) in the two games, as did forward Scott Wilson (one goal, two assists). (Hornqvist hasn't played since May 13 because of an upper-body injury).

Murray made 37 saves in Pittsburgh's win; Fleury was pulled after allowing five goals in two periods of the loss.

Viktor Arvidsson, Kevin Fiala and Calle Jarnkrok each scored two goals against Pittsburgh (Fiala is out for the playoffs with a fractured left femur). Rinne allowed four goals in Nashville's loss, with Juuse Saros making 34 saves in its win.

The Stanley Cup Final schedule:

Game 1, Monday, May 29: Predators at Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

Game 2, Wednesday, May 31: Predators at Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

Game 3, Saturday, June 3: Penguins at Predators (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

Game 4, Monday, June 5: Penguins at Predators (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

Game 5, Thursday, June 8: Predators at Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

Game 6, Sunday, June 11: Penguins at Predators (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

Game 7, Wednesday, June 14: Predators at Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports)

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