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Stanley Cup Final Buzz: Predators, Penguins ready for Game 5

Pittsburgh sticking with goaltender Matt Murray at home against Nashville; series tied 2-2

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final is in Pittsburgh on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers will be checking in throughout the day.

Here is the Stanley Cup Final news for Thursday:

 

1:40 p.m.
Colin Wilson likely to return for Predators

The Predators had nearly full attendance for their optional morning skate in preparation for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday. The only healthy players who did not skate were forwards James Neal, Craig Smith and Austin Watson.

The Predators, who won Games 3 and 4 at home to even the best-of-7 series at 2-2, are expected to insert forward Colin Wilson for PA Parenteau. Wilson, who missed the first four games of the series with an unspecified injury, would make his Stanley Cup Final debut if he plays. Staff writer Tom Gulitti has the details on Nashville's lineup.

 

12:45 p.m.
Keys to Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final

As expected, Matt Murray will be the Penguins starting goalie in Game 5 against the Predators.

The 23-year-old has lost back-to-back Stanley Cup Playoff games for the first time in his NHL career. He was previously 7-0 following a postseason loss. Senior writer Dan Rosen has the full update.

Murray, who allowed eight goals on 58 shots in Games 3 and 4, is clearly one Penguins player who has to be better in Game 5. Forward Phil Kessel is another; he hasn't scored a goal in six straight games and has one goal in the past nine. However, Rosen identifies five other Penguins players who need to step up to help Pittsburgh respond against Nashville.

To sum it up, correspondent Wes Crosby has 5 keys to Game 5, including projected lineups.

 

11:30 a.m.
Pittsburgh sticking with Matt Murray for Game 5

Penguins goaltender Matt Murray will start Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena, coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Thursday.

"I know that Matt's excited to play tonight," Sullivan said.

Murray will be making his ninth consecutive start since replacing Marc-Andre Fleury in the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators. He'll start despite allowing eight goals on 58 shots in losing Games 3 and 4 at Bridgestone Arena, including three on 25 shots in a 4-1 loss in Game 4 on Monday.

Murray was 5-1 with a 1.54 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs entering Game 3, but his GAA is now 2.08 and his save percentage .925.

Sullivan also said forward Nick Bonino (ankle/foot), who has missed the past two games, is a game-time decision. Bonino didn't practice Wednesday and was not on the ice for the optional morning skate.

 

9:30 a.m.
Predators confident heading back to Pittsburgh

The Nashville Predators lost Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh, but there's no lack of confidence as they prepare for Game 5 at PPG Paints Arena.

"We liked a lot of our game, but obviously it wasn't good enough to get one win or two wins in their building," forward Austin Watson told LNH.com Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu on Wednesday. "For us, we need to clean up some areas. We gave up some chances that we'd like to have back in the first couple of games. If we can limit those Grade-A chances and play tight defensively, we'll give ourselves a good chance to win."

Goalie Pekka Rinne allowed nine goals in Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh, but bounced back and allowed two goals in the Predators' wins in Games 3 and 4. He's also confident heading back to Pittsburgh, according to NHL.com Staff Writer Lisa Dillman.

"It's amazing," Rinne said. "The best time of my life."

The Penguins have goaltending questions after Matt Murray allowed nine goals in the losses in Games 3 and 4. However, NHL.com Columnist Nick Cotsonika believes Murray should start Game 5.

Also helping the Penguins' effort would be a contribution from forward Phil Kessel, who hasn't scored in six games. But teammate Evgeni Malkin is confident Kessel will come up big.

"[He'll] score," Malkin said, according to NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen. "I mean, it's his time to score. We know he's a great player and he likes to play in tough situations. Now it's time for leadership to show, good games. Time to score."

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