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Predators ready for emotions of Game 7

Nashville returns to work recharged after rare day off

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators returned to practice Wednesday before flying to California for Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

The Predators took Tuesday off following their 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday. It was the first time since they began the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15 that they had a full day off with no practice or travel.

"Well I can tell you that we thoroughly enjoyed it," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Players enjoyed it, and they got a break from the grind: the mental grind, the physical grind, the travel grind. Just got a chance to relax for a day, and we have not had that. I can't tell you as far as a break mentally and physically on your body both, it was really important." 

Although the Predators have yet to win a playoff game at SAP Center (0-7), they don't believe that matters heading into the game Thursday.

"No, not at all," Nashville defenseman Shea Weber said. "There's always time to start something new or break something that you can't get through. Hopefully it's Game 7." 

Video: Listen in as the Preds stave off elimination in OT

The Predators have experienced winning a Game 7 on the road already and believe the emotion of it is what separates it from any other playoff game. They defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 at Honda Center in the first Game 7 in their history on April 27, and will become the first team since the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning to play its first two Game 7s in consecutive playoff series.

"Just knowing someone's going home, you're ending someone's season," Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. "As players, that's what you think about the day before games, game days or when you put your head on the pillow at night is all the work you've put in all year long and all of the sacrifices you make. 

"It all comes down to one game. That's why these are so much fun to watch as fans and as family and friends of ours. They see the passion and emotion that comes out of all of us and how we throw everything on the line just to win one hockey game. That's why this time of year is so exciting." 

The Predators are going to make sure they focus on the details that go into winning games, particularly on the road.

"Everything is so meaningful at this time of the year, and everything matters," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "You don't want to give them a chance on the power play. That's their strength. Little things, getting pucks deep and not turning it over, myself making a save. I think you just try to do it for your teammates and for yourself at the same time."

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