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Stanley Cup Final

P.K. Subban not backing down on prediction that Predators will win Game 3

Defenseman still confident Nashville will defeat Penguins for first win in Cup Final

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

NASHVILLE -- This is P.K. Subban. Always has been, always will be. It should come as no surprise.

When he said after a 4-1 loss in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday that the Nashville Predators would win Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports), it created shock waves.

When he slept on it and decided to say it again on Thursday, it was clear Subban was being calculated.

Then on Friday, Subban didn't back down.

How could he? What is he supposed to say, that he made a mistake? That he doesn't think they will win now?

There is no putting that genie back in the bottle, and even if he could, Subban wouldn't do that anyway.

That's not how he's wired.

"You know what? It's confidence and it's feeling confident," he said after practice Friday. "With this team, there's no question that coming back here, we know that we haven't played our best game and I think that our best is going to come [Saturday]. When we're playing our best, no one can beat us in this league. I'm confident that [Saturday], like I said, we're going to win the game and then we'll move forward from there."

Video: Subban claims Predators will win Game 3

This is not the first time Subban has done this. Based on how the last time went, no one can blame him for trying it again.

The last time came on May 12, 2014, after he and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 4-0 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Bell Centre, forcing a Game 7 in Boston.

After the game, Subban was visibly pumped. He was confident. And he let everyone know.

"It's going to be great," Subban said of the Game 7 to come in Boston. "I can't wait for the crowd, the noise, the energy in the building.

"I can't wait to take that all away from them."

As soon as those words left his lips, Subban walked out of the dressing room. His message had been sent. His work was done. A bomb had been dropped.

Video: Basu on Subban's comments after Game 2, Rinne's play

The following day, that quote was all anyone in Montreal and Boston was talking about. Subban's words had taken over the entire series, drawn everyone's attention and, perhaps, taken some of the pressure off his teammates and placed it squarely on himself.

Maybe that was intentional, maybe it wasn't. But it was vintage Subban at his Subbaniest.

"I just speak my mind, I speak the truth," Subban said when reminded of that quote. "At the end of the day, I'm going to speak what I feel and I feel that our team is going to be the best team on the ice [Saturday]. When we're at our best no one can beat us."

Two days after he said he would take all that excitement away from the fans in Boston, he and the Canadiens did exactly that, winning 3-1 in Game 7 and eliminating the favored Bruins from the playoffs.

The atmosphere at TD Garden was funereal.

Subban was held off the scoresheet but had a tremendous game nonetheless, playing a game-high 26:17 and helping Canadiens goaltender Carey Price limit Boston to one goal.

Video: Preds' home ice vs. Pens' experience

So here we are again.

The circumstances are not exactly the same, but the current environment is pretty similar.

Subban and the Predators are coming off a loss this time around, and they are in the Final, so the focus of the entire hockey world is on them. But once again, all anyone is talking about it is Subban and his words.

He is taking the pressure and putting it all on his shoulders once again, taking it off goaltender Pekka Rinne, who may or may not get the start in Game 3, and the rest of his teammates.

"It's a bold statement, and you know P.K., he's a bold guy," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "But for us in here it is a must win game. Everyone's looking at it the same way. We need to win."

Subban did not make a guarantee in the truest sense of the word, just as he didn't do that three years ago, but came as close as you possibly can.

This is the time of year he has always thrived, this is the type of pressure he has always craved, and through two games of the Final it can easily be argued he has been the Predators' best player.

But now he needs to deliver on those words and lead his team to a victory, just as he did three years ago. He has no doubt in his mind that he will.

"It's not about me. It's about the team," Subban said. "If I say something about our team and somebody wants to dissect it and make it about me then fine. I mean the reality is there's at least 15 other players in here doing media, you know, so you don't have to take my quote. But if you choose to, then go ahead. I mean, I don't care.

"I said we were going to win the game and I believe that."

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