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Stanley Cup Final

Ryan Ellis' status for Predators in Game 6 of Final still unclear

Top-four defenseman was injured during second period of Game 5 loss to Penguins

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Defenseman Ryan Ellis did not participate in the Nashville Predators' optional practice Saturday at Bridgestone Arena and his status is unclear for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports, SN).

Ellis left a 6-0, Game 5 loss Thursday with an undisclosed injury in the second period.

The Predators trail the best-of-7 series 3-2.


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Ellis and partner Roman Josi have spent the majority of the Cup Final matched up against Sidney Crosby's line. Ellis is tied for third on the Predators with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 21 games.

"He's obviously a huge part of our defense," Josi said. "He's been unbelievable all season. He's been great in the playoffs. … His hockey sense is really good. He makes the right plays, he always makes the right decision and he's a great leader on our team."

Defenseman Matt Irwin saw an increased role after Ellis left Game 5 and played in Nashville's top four when P.K. Subban, Roman Josi or Ellis were injured during the regular season. Anthony Bitetto or Brad Hunt could dress if Ellis cannot play.

"We're just preparing for another game," Irwin said. "[Ellis is] preparing for another game, we're preparing for another game and whatever happens, happens."

Video: The crew discusses the status of Ryan Ellis

The Predators could lose a series for the first time in this year's playoffs, but most of their players have experience in such games. Nashville was down 3-2 to the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks in the 2016 playoffs. The Predators won Game 6 each time; they defeated Anaheim in Game 7 but lost to San Jose.

"Desperation typically wins games," Nashville forward Colin Wilson said. "I think we're a desperate team. They are too, so it's going to be an interesting game. We've been here before, last year, with relatively the same group so it's nothing new to us."

The Predators' confidence has not been shaken by the lopsided loss in Game 5. They believe if they play the style of game that's gotten them to this point, they can come back and win the series.

"I know our guys don't sit in there and wonder how we're going to do this," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think we're an extremely confident group and we've had a lot of success, especially down the stretch in the regular season through the playoffs. We've had success. We've found a certain way to play the game with a certain identity and when we do that, usually the wins follow.

"You can go back through the whole series; there's really one game that we don't like out of five games, and that's Game 5. And even more to the point, when we do not have the game that we want, usually our guys respond with an effort and a game that we're a lot more proud of. I would expect our guys to come out and give a good, strong performance [in Game 6]."

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