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Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final Buzz: Predators ride momentum into Game 4 vs. Penguins

Nashville looks to continue special teams dominance against Pittsburgh, even best-of-7 series

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is Monday in Nashville (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers in Nashville will be checking in throughout the day.

Here is the Stanley Cup Final news for Monday:

 

2:30 p.m.
Predators can't lose focus

There were no changes to the Nashville Predators' line combinations and defense pairs at their morning skate, so it appears they will go with the same lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). 

Nashville center Vernon Fiddler and left wing Cody McLeod will likely be healthy scratches again after sitting out the Predators' 5-1 win in Game 3 on Saturday.

Trailing 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, the Predators know they can't afford a letdown or they will head back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday on the brink of elimination. Coach Peter Laviolette made sure to remind his players of that after their sloppy start to the morning skate. Staff writer Tom Gulitti has more on Laviolette's message.

Correspondent Robby Stanley has 5 Keys to Game 4. They include special teams, which the Predators have dominated so far in the series (4-for-10 on power play, 12-for-13 on penalty kill), the importance of playing with speed, and the availability of Penguins center Nick Bonino (lower body).

Bonino's status for Game 4 remains a mystery. He didn't skate in Pittsburgh's optional morning skate Monday. He was seen leaving Bridgestone Arena on crutches and wearing a walking boot. But that doesn't mean he won't play. Senior writer Dan Rosen has the update on Bonino.

 

1:30 p.m.
Bonino's status remains unclear

Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino is a game-time decision for Game 4 against the Nashville Predators on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Bonino was not on the ice for the Penguins' optional morning skate Monday, but skated in drills and worked with the second power-play unit during practice Sunday. He has been wearing a walking boot and using crutches, and did not play in Game 3 on Saturday because of a left foot injury sustained blocking a shot by Predators defenseman P.K. Subban in the first period of Game 2.

It's unclear who would come out of the lineup if Bonino is able to return. Left wing Carl Hagelin played 13:14 and had two shots on goal in place of Bonino during Game 3.

 

10:15 a.m.
They're ready in Nashville

The party is about to resume on the streets of Nashville and in Bridgestone Arena, where the Nashville Predators will attempt to even the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final. The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the series 2-1.

Backed by the support of their boisterous fan base, the Predators are 8-1 at home during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their lone defeat coming in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks on May 18.

Video: Arpon Basu on the unique atmosphere in Nashville

The Predators' run to the Cup Final has surpassed the wildest expectations of co-owner W. Brett Wilson. NHL.com Staff Writer Lisa Dillman explains how Wilson, who once owned a third of the English soccer team Derby County FC, is having the time of his life.

Predators defenseman P.K. Subban loves the competition and the attention, and especially the gamesmanship with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Subban also has produced on the ice, where he is one of four Predators defensemen to reach double-digits in points during the postseason. Two other teams in NHL history have had four defensemen each with at least 10 points in the same playoff year: the 1984 Edmonton Oilers and 1993 Los Angeles Kings

NHL.com Columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika explains why Subban is a breath of fresh air and how his showmanship is upping the ante in the Cup Final.

Predators captain Mike Fisher is hoping to celebrate his 37th birthday with a victory in Game 4. NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti explains how Fisher's leadership has been important during the Predators' playoff run.

Though the Penguins hold a 2-1 lead in the series, they have been outplayed for portions of the Final. During a 5-1 loss in Game 3, neither center Sidney Crosby nor center Evgeni Malkin had a shot on goal. Center Nick Bonino, who has a foot injury, is questionable for Game 4. Though Bonino practiced Sunday, he arrived in a walking boot and on crutches and there were signs he was laboring through the injury, which he sustained blocking a shot in the first period of Game 2, according to NHL.com Director of Editorial Shawn P. Roarke.

The Penguins also have struggled on special teams. They are 1-for-13 on the power play in the Final and have allowed the Predators four goals in 10 times shorthanded. "Both the power play and the penalty killing have got to be a lot better," former NHL assistant Doug Lidster told NHL.com Staff Writer Amalie Benjamin.

Video: Malkin meeting his match, Kessel due for a break out?

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