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5 Keys: Penguins at Predators, Game 4

Pittsburgh forward Nick Bonino game-time decision; Nashville wants to use speed to generate pressure

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent


8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 2-1


NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators will try to even the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.

The Predators are 8-1 at home during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have had 19 players score at least one goal.

Pittsburgh has won 10 consecutive series after it's taken a 2-0 lead.

Here are 5 keys for Game 4:


1. Nick Bonino's availability

Bonino will be a game-time decision. The Penguins center missed Game 3 with a lower-body injury after blocking a P.K. Subban shot off his left foot in Game 2. 

Bonino practiced Sunday but was seen leaving Bridgestone Arena on crutches and wearing a walking boot during the morning skate Monday.

"Obviously, he's a good player, he's a big part of our team," forward Patric Hornqvist said. "But we have some guys who have to step up when we have a guy who's not playing, and we really didn't do that so we put that behind us and look forward to tonight instead."

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Bonino banks goal in off defender


2. Special teams must improve

The Penguins were 0-for-3 on the power play with one shot on goal in Game 3. Their power play is 1-for-13 with four shots on goal in the series. 

Nashville's power play is 4-for-10, including 2-for-3 in Game 3, so Pittsburgh is looking to improve its performance on special teams in Game 4. 

"I think we just have to take what they give us a little bit," Hornqvist said. "We can't have those set plays and try to seam them every time. We have to maybe work them around a little bit, make them tired and go from there."


3. Use speed

The Predators went with a faster lineup in Game 3 by inserting forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and PA Parenteau in place of Cody McLeod and Vernon Fiddler, and the move had positive results. 

They want to continue to generate offensive pressure from their speed in Game 4.

Pittsburgh used speed to its advantage in the first two games of the series, capitalizing on odd-man rushes.

Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Zolnierczyk goes bar-down on breakaway


4. Push to the outside

The Predators have been effective for large stretches of pushing the Penguins to the outside and making entries through the neutral zone difficult. They were happy with that aspect of their game in Game 3 and want to repeat it.

"We've got to make sure we pay attention in close detail, making sure we slow their forwards down coming through the neutral zone and not letting them enter with possession, kind of forcing them to do things that they're not looking to do," Zolnierczyk said. "I thought we did a good job as a team of kind of slowing them down and making it difficult."


5. Get the puck to Jake Guentzel

The Penguins rookie has four goals in the series and has scored in every game. His 13 goals in the playoffs lead the NHL.

"He's a great offensive player," coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's got good instincts. We can play him with anybody. He just has the ability to make players around him better. He's got a nose for the net. He can score goals."

Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Guentzel slides a rebound five-hole


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary -- Carter Rowney -- Scott Wilson

Carl Hagelin -- Matt Cullen -- Patric Hornqvist

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole -- Trevor Daley

Olli Maatta -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Mark Streit, Josh Archibald, Oskar Sundqvist, Cameron Gaunce, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky, Frank Corrado, Kevin Porter, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sesito, Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire

Injured: Kris Letang (neck surgery), Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body), Chad Ruhwedel (concussion), Nick Bonino (lower body)


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Colton Sissons -- Pontus Aberg

Viktor Arvidsson -- Mike Fisher -- James Neal

Austin Watson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Craig Smith

PA Parenteau -- Frederick Gaudreau -- Harry Zolnierczyk

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Vernon Fiddler, Miikka Salomaki, Cody McLeod, Vladislav Kamenev, Marek Mazanec, Petter Granberg

Injured: Kevin Fiala (fractured left femur), Ryan Johansen (acute compartment syndrome), Colin Wilson (undisclosed)


Status report

The Penguins had an optional morning skate. … Colin Wilson skated for the Predators. He has missed every game in the series with an undisclosed injury.

Who's hot

Malkin has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past six games. … Kunitz has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past four games. … Gaudreau has two goals in the series. … Josi in Game 3 became the first defenseman to earn three points or more in a Stanley Cup Final game since Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

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