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5 Keys: Blues at Predators, Game 6

Nashville aiming to close out series; St. Louis needs fast start, offensive push

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

BLUES at PREDATORS

3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 3-2

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have a chance to advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues won 2-1 win in Game 5 at Scottrade Center on Friday to avoid being eliminated from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Predators are 7-2 in the playoffs and have not lost back-to-back games.

Here are five keys for Game 6:

 
1. Match desperation

The Predators were not happy with their execution in Game 5. The Blues, in a desperate situation trailing the series 3-1, were able to prevent Nashville from playing its style. The Predators want to approach Game 6 with an urgent mindset.

"We feel like it's a must win," Nashville forward Colton Sissons said. "That's the way we're going to treat it like it. It's more of a Game 7 than anything. We're going to be ready to go and play a lot better and hopefully close this series out."

Video: The guys react to the Blues win over Predators

 

2. Quick start crucial

The Blues scored the first goal of the game for the first time in the series in Game 5 and it helped set the tone. Getting that first goal on the road could be even more important.

"That building is rocking, always is," Blues goaltender Jake Allen said of Bridgestone Arena. "It's fun to play in. They love playing there. I think we've got a lot of pride in shutting teams down in their building, and we're going to have a huge test Sunday."

 

3. Feed off home crowd

The Predators have won eight consecutive home playoff games, dating back to Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round against the Anaheim Ducks.

They are 4-0 at home during these playoffs; the home team has won four of five games in the series.

"It's really important to keep our composure," Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. "Obviously we're not happy with the result [in Game 5]. There's no point in dwelling on it or being frustrated. We looked at some stuff [Saturday] that we've got to do better, and now it's just moving forward. We've been dominant so far in the playoffs at home. We've got to have some confidence in our building and play with it."

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues-Predators series coverage]

 

4. Top forwards must up

Forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals for the Blues in a 3-2 win in Game 2, but has not had a point since.

Nashville's top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson was dominant in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks but have combined for three points (one goal, two assists) against St. Louis. Predators coach Peter Laviolette feels that line has been creating good opportunities.

"They're still getting chances and looks," Laviolette said. "I think it's just a matter of time before they fall."

 
5. Center health pivotal

Blues center Alexander Steen missed Game 5 with an undisclosed injury. He participated in pregame warmups but was scratched, and made the trip to Nashville.

Predators center Craig Smith participated in a full practice Thursday and the morning skate Friday. He has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury and could return in Game 6.

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Sobotka -- Patrik Berglund -- Dmitrij Jaskin

Magnus Paajarvi -- Jori Lehtera -- David Perron

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Ivan Barbashev, Luke Opilka, Zach Sanford, Jordan Schmaltz

Injured: Robby Fabbri (knee), Nail Yakupov (lower body), Alexander Steen (undisclosed)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Harry Zolnierczyk -- Mike Fisher -- Austin Watson

Colin Wilson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Cody McLeod -- Colton Sissons -- Miikka Salomaki

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, PA Parenteau, Vernon Fiddler, Frederick Gaudreau, Cody Bass, Marek Mazanec, Alex Carrier, Petter Granberg, Trevor Murphy, Vladislav Kamenev, Jack Dougherty

Injured: Craig Smith (lower body), Kevin Fiala (fractured left femur), Pontus Aberg (undisclosed)      

                                                                               

Status report

Brodziak returned to the lineup for the Blues in Game 5 after he was a healthy scratch in Game 4. … Smith did not participate in an optional practice for the Predators on Saturday.

 

Who's hot

Jaskin scored in his first game of the playoffs in Game 5 and had eight shots on goal. Schwartz has eight points (four goals, four assists) in the postseason. … Ellis has three goals in his past four games and leads the Predators with nine points (four goals, five assists) in the playoffs. … Neal has scored in two consecutive games.

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