NASHVILLE -- The road to redemption for the Nashville Predators became significantly longer Saturday.
After being on the wrong end of a 5-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center, the Predators trail 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. Nashville must win the next two games, starting with Game 6 at home on Monday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2), or the chase for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history will end for another season.
"We have to have our best game in Nashville and force one back here," said left wing James Neal, who assisted on Nashville's only goal in Game 5. "Get some rest and get ready for the next one because it's do-or-die."
The Predators have some experience navigating the perilous road necessary to find the way back from a 3-2 series deficit. They did it in the previous round; against the favored Anaheim Ducks, Nashville won Game 6 at home and then held on to win 2-1 in Game 7 in Anaheim.
"Experiences that you gain, good and bad, you learn from them," coach Peter Laviolette said.
Video: NSH@SJS, Gm5: Fisher finishes off feed from Neal
But knowledge alone is not enough. The effort must also be there.
"We have to put the work in and make sure we're playing the game with the attitude we need to be successful," Laviolette said. "We can take things from [last round], but we have to change our mindset here."
Nashville did not play with the attitude or mindset necessary to win Saturday. They were outworked regularly, had numerous coverage breakdowns in the defensive zone and managed all of 25 shots; just five in the pivotal second period when San Jose's 2-1 lead ballooned to 4-1.
"We knew they were going to push and I don't think we pushed hard enough back," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "In the playoffs, you need to have a push of your own and we had ours a little too late."
Nashville had that push in Game 4. Neal tied it 3-3 late in regulation, and the Predators survived several close calls before Mike Fisher got the winning goal at 11:12 of the third overtime.
The Predators hopes that the momentum from winning the longest game in franchise history would carry into Game 5. Instead, they looked emotionally and physically spent for long stretches.
"We weren't as desperate as we needed to be," forward Colin Wilson said. "The series was 2-2, both teams should be in the same mindset. The first 10 minutes weren't our best. We couldn't get our momentum going long enough. They just had a better game."
Video: NSH@SJ, Gm5: Rinne denies Hertl, Pavelski in the 1st
The Predators know they need to have the better game for two consecutive games. They have done it before, and they believe they can do it again.
"We just need to go into Nashville and have a better game," Neal said. "Our team will. I believe in the guys. We'll regroup."
They now have no other choice.