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Predators attempt to stave off elimination in Game 5

by Robby Stanley /

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators will try to avoid elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 5 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-1 and has a chance to close out the series on the road Thursday. Nashville will try to win Game 5 and push the series back to United Center in Chicago on Saturday.

"You've got to win four games to win a series," Predators forward James Neal said. "I've played in a lot of series. I've been up 3-1 in a series and lost, so momentum changes really quickly.

"Chicago coming in our rink knows how hard it's going to be to close out a series. We've got lots of fight left in us. We'll just take it one period at a time, one game at a time and get back to Chicago."

The Predators lost 3-2 in triple overtime in Game 4 and will have to overcome the physical and emotional toll of losing such a grueling game.

"It's absolutely draining," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "To play that long, almost two full games, and then kind of end like that. Obviously it's frustrating, but we don't have much time to dwell on it. Our backs are against the wall now, and now we've got to fight for our lives."

Nashville forward Mike Fisher left Game 1 in the second period with a lower-body injury and has been out since. Fisher participated in the morning skate Thursday but did not say if he will be in the lineup for Game 5.

"We don't speculate on in our out," Fisher said. "We're not talking about lineups. Obviously I'm hoping to get back sometime soon, but we're in a position where we just need a win tonight. These guys have responded well all year, so we're looking just to play as hard as we can."

Predators forwards Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque missed the morning skate. Wilson leads the Predators with four goals in the series. Defenseman Shea Weber also did not participate in the morning skate and is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

"We really have nothing to report on any of our players," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've been upfront about everything to this point. We're current, I believe."

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip ForsbergMike RibeiroCraig Smith

Colin WilsonMatt CullenJames Neal

Mike SantorelliCalle JarnkrokViktor Stalberg

Gabriel BourquePaul GaustadTaylor Beck

Roman JosiSeth Jones

Mattias EkholmRyan Ellis

Victor BartleyCody Franson

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Anton Volchenkov, Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons, Austin Watson, Johan Alm, Anthony Bitetto, Joe Piskula, Magnus Hellberg, Marek Mazanec

Injured: Eric Nystrom (lower body), Mike Fisher (lower body), Shea Weber (lower body)


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Bryan BickellBrad RichardsPatrick Kane

Kris VersteegAntoine VermettePatrick Sharp

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Duncan KeithMichal Rozsival

Kimmo TimonenBrent Seabrook

Scott Darling

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Joakim Nordstrom, Teuvo Teravainen, Antti Raanta, David Rundblad, Kyle Cumiskey, Michael Paliotta, Daniel Carcillo

Injured: none

Status report: The Predators recalled nine players from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. … Nystrom participated in the morning skate but is not expected to play.

Who's hot: Wilson leads the Predators with four goals in the series and has scored in three of the four games.

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