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Stanley Cup Final

Colin Wilson expected to be in Predators lineup for Game 5

Nashville forward likely to make Stanley Cup Final debut against Penguins

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- No one with the Nashville Predators confirmed it, but it appears forward Colin Wilson will be in their lineup for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

It would be Wilson's first appearance in the Final. He sat out the first four games of the best-of-7 series with an unspecified injury. The Predators and Penguins split those four games, with each team winning twice on home ice.

After going through a full practice with the Predators on Wednesday, Wilson took rushes during their optional morning skate at left wing on a line with Harry Zolnierczyk and rookie Frederick Gaudreau on Thursday. PA Parenteau, who played with Zolnierczyk and Gaudreau in the Predators' wins in Games 3 and 4, stayed on the ice for extra work at the end of the morning skate and confirmed afterward he will be a healthy scratch for Game 5.

 

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"It was nice to get in," Parenteau said. "I wish it could have kept going, but it's not the way it is going. I'm just going to keep staying behind the guys and, hopefully, we can get this done [Thursday] and get it done at home [in Game 6 on Sunday]. That's the goal."

Predators coach Peter Laviolette smiled but would not answer when asked if Wilson was physically available to play in Game 5. Wilson, who last played in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks, also was evasive when asked if he will play, but sounded optimistic.

"It's been feeling good. It's been progressing really well," Wilson said of his injury. "We've done a great job of getting me to the point where I am now. Getting back out there for a full practice [Wednesday] was certainly a test and good for me mentally and physically to see what I can do."

Wilson, 27, has four points (two goals, two assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games this season. In 45 playoff games, he has 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists). 

He believes he can help the Predators if given the chance.

"That's kind of been the mental battle," Wilson said. "You want to get in there and be able to help the team. It's almost a selfish thing. I want to be out there, so the decision is when I can go out there and help my team win the Stanley Cup. So we'll see how I feel tonight."

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Playing in his first Stanley Cup Final game would mean a lot for Wilson, a veteran of 502 regular-season games. His father, Carey Wilson, who played 552 games in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and Hartford Whalers, never got that opportunity.

"I want to play for the Cup," Colin Wilson said. "That's why you play. That's what you dream of as a kid. It's an exciting time. It's been the hardest thing to watch. I don't know how coaches do it. So it's going to be fun if I get back out there."

The Predators are hoping for better luck in Game 5 than they had in losing the first two games of the Final in Pittsburgh. Although it's said to be "random," most of the players' locker stalls were on opposite sides of the visiting locker room from Games 1 and 2.

"We don't have anything to do with it," backup goaltender Juuse Saros said of the locker assignments.

The Predators are feeling better about themselves after winning the past two games by a combined 9-2.

"We have momentum now. We're coming in with two wins," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "We've got some confidence. We're playing great. We're scoring goals, we're playing good defense and the pieces are coming together. I don't think anyone on this team isn't feeling comfortable in the way we're playing right now."

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