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Predators energized after triple-overtime win

Nashville 'on a level playing field' with Sharks heading into Game 5

by Robby Stanley @RStanley247 / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have played every second day since the Stanley Cup Playoffs began for them on April 15 at Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference First Round. 

The Predators have gotten into a routine of sorts, but their experience at Bridgestone Arena was anything but routine Thursday, when they outlasted the San Jose Sharks with a 4-3 win in triple overtime in Game 4 of their second-round series. It was the first time the Predators played an overtime game this postseason.

Nashville's victory tied the best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is at SAP Center in San Jose on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

It's reasonable to expect the Predators to deal with fatigue after a game that lasted 111:12 and a schedule that hasn't provided much down time. However, they feel they're on even terms with the Sharks, who had a week off between the first and second round.

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"They had to do it to now, and that was the difference, I think, from maybe Game 1," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Where in Game 1, they had a couple quick trips to [Los Angeles]. We went into a seven-game series with Anaheim, and the travel back and forth to get to that point of a Game 7, I felt like maybe there was a little bit of an advantage there in Game 1.

"But now it's equal. They had to play the six periods [Thursday]. They've got to travel back to California just like we do, so I think it's a little bit more on a level playing field than it was maybe in Game 1."

The Predators have dealt with adversity on multiple occasions this postseason and have responded positively. They were down 3-2 against the Ducks and came back to win the series, and were down 2-0 against the Sharks and have come back to tie it.

"I think it's just every guy stepping up and wanting to win for each other," Predators forward James Neal said. "It's a special group, and you battle all year to give yourself an opportunity at this time. When you go through the playoffs, when you go through different games, it's going to be different guys stepping up.

"There's going to be great moments and kind of a story you're going to write throughout the playoffs. Hopefully you've just got to keep going and that continues, because it's a lot of fun. We have a lot of character guys in that locker room, and no one wants to be done."

The Predators' Game 4 victory was an emotional one, the first time they won a playoff game at home in overtime. They must move on and focus on winning a road game in a tough environment at SAP Center.

"We definitely have to put it behind us here," Predators captain Shea Weber said. "We've got a lot of work left here. It's a three-game series now, kind of like the last one, and we've got to make the best of it."

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