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Fans give Pens real home-ice advantage

by Nicole Jelinek @Penguins / Pittsburgh Penguins

Entering Thursday's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, it was clear that the series was one of home ice. The Pens won the first two games at PPG Paints, but came up short as the Predators quickly evened the playing field at Bridgestone Arena to tie the series 2-2. 

With both teams showing dominance on home ice, a bigger challenge was sparked from the electricity and loudness the Nashville crowd brought to Games 3 and 4.

Judging by the noise from the drop of the puck until the final buzzer of the Pens 6-0 shutout over the Predators in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, it is safe to say that Pens fans are just as loud and rambunctious.

"It was big," Bryan Rust said about being back home in front of their fans. "They were huge all night, especially at the start. It gave us a lot of energy, a lot of momentum and that definitely helps out."

The place was hyped from puck drop with fans on their feet, towels waiving, and "Let's go Pens," chants that only progressed and got louder throughout the night. The roof nearly blew off when Sidney Crosby split two defensemen for a breakaway on the opening shift.

Almost instantaneously after Phil Kessel notched a goal in the second period to make the score 5-0, PPG Paints Arena was flooded by the chants of it's 18,000-plus screaming fans yelling "WE WANT THE CUP!" A boost proved home-ice is indeed a factor in success, but nothing the Penguins aren't used to.

Playing at home has been a success for the Penguins all year, winning 41 of 54 games this season at home.

"We like playing here," defenseman Justin Schultz said. "We are comfortable here. We like our fans. They give us energy and we want to win for them."

The team's success continues at PPG Paints Arena and their win allowed the Pens to set a new team record of 10 home playoff wins.

Drawing from the crowd and pulling out wins has pushed the team a long way, and it is not unnoticed. Head coach Mike Sullivan expressed that the guys were thrilled to enter the Game 5 matchup and to be back in a home environment.

"We find a comfort level at home," Sullivan said. "I think our fan base is one of the big reasons why. They are so supportive of our group. I know our whole team - our whole organization - are so appreciative of the fan support that we get, and I think that has a lot to do with the success that we've enjoyed here at home this season."

Video: Check out all the fun at tonight's Game 5 win

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