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Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final blog: Harry Zolnierczyk

Predators forward confident home ice, fan support will help turn series around

by Harry Zolnierczyk / Special to NHL.com

Nashville Predators left wing Harry Zolnierczyk will be keeping his own blog throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zolnierczyk will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.

Zolnierczyk, 29, is in his first season with the Predators. He split the season between Nashville and Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. In 24 regular-season NHL games, he had two goals and two assists. He has played in eight 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff games and has a goal and an assist. He broke into the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-12 and has played for the Penguins, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks. 

Here is the third entry from Zolnierczyk, who did not play in Game 2, a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He shared his thoughts about the confidence of the team and the importance of home ice for Game 3 in Nashville on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports):

Similar to Game 1, Game 2 didn't bring us the result we wanted, but we again liked a lot of the things we did. It's a seven-game series for a reason, so we just have to move forward, quickly put that game behind us and realize that we have to win Game 3.

 

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We had a day off yesterday to regroup and recharge after the travel, and today we just practiced to reset a few things and get set up for Game 3.

We are excited to come back to Nashville because home games have been our bread-and-butter this season and in these playoffs. I think there was a bit of excitement after we got on the plane from Pittsburgh because we knew we were coming back to our building and to our fans. We love playing in front of these fans; they're so loud and passionate. We think it's a special place to play and -- maybe even more important --a tough place to play for other teams.

As impossible as it may seem after this run so far, I think Game 3 will be a new level for Nashville, for players, for fans, for friends and family, and definitely for the guy who keeps track of the decibels in Bridgestone Arena. They will be lucky if they can keep the roof on this place come Game 3. A Saturday night game … I'm sure the city will be buzzing all day. It has been crazy leading up to this point, and there's no doubt in my mind [Saturday] will be exceptional.

The Nashville fans are great year-round, but since the playoffs started the passion for the Predators became even more apparent in the city. Everywhere you go you see flags hanging from people's houses or restaurants, and half the people you pass on the street are wearing Nashville Predators T-shirts, whether they are going for a jog or a walk or out on the town. You can tell this city is just bleeding Nashville Predators hockey right now, and that makes it a special place to play for us.

There's nothing we want to do more than bring the Cup back for these guys and for ourselves. Even though the situation isn't what we'd hoped it'd be coming back home, this place is primed and ready to go, which makes us even more excited for puck drop.

Inside the [dressing] room we remain confident, and it all stems from the top of this team. The coaches make their plan and present it all with such authority and belief that, as a player, you just have to believe too. Then you look at the leadership group and what they do as far as instilling that conviction within this group. We've steadfastly believed in ourselves throughout the entire playoffs.

Down to the last guy in our room we truly felt we were going to dismantle the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. We knew we might have been on our own island in that thinking, but that was OK with us. It didn't matter if we were the only ones who believed because look what happened, we swept them.

It took a few more games in each of the next couple of rounds with St. Louis and Anaheim, respectively, but we still got the job done. Our goal and our belief is that we will win the Stanley Cup. We have some work to do but we definitely won't stop believing in ourselves. Why stop now?

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