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Culture, Leadership Give Preds Optimism for Bounce Back

Down 1-0 in Stanley Cup Final, Nashville Believes in Ability to Rebound from Playoff Losses

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Listening to Monday night's postgame press conferences, an uninformed viewer could have surmised it was the visitors who were victorious in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final as opposed to the hosts.

Nashville held Pittsburgh without a shot on goal for a span of 37 minutes in Game One, only giving up 12 shots in total to the Penguins. The Predators controlled play for a majority of the night and capitalized on two power plays. It was the Preds who said there was plenty to like about their game, while Pittsburgh stated they weren't good enough.

But as many of the Preds stated Monday night, hockey doesn't always go your way.

It didn't in Game One for Nashville. Instead, a 5-3 win for the Penguins gave them a 1-0 series lead in the Cup Final. But Game Two comes Wednesday, ready to offer the Preds another chance for their first Stanley Cup Final win in franchise history, an opportunity they plan on embracing.

"Whether you win or lose, you have to prepare for Game Two," Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said. "At the end of the day, there were a lot of positives for us to take out of [Game One]… We did a lot of good things, but we have to do great things to win our next one. That's what today's about, just preparing for that."

Video: Forsberg, Subban and Sissons preview Game 2

The Predators have shown a knack for responding with an effort significantly better than the previous one that brought them a loss. Nashville's confidence has been virtually unshakable in these playoffs, yet to lose back-to-back games. The last time they did was at the tailend of the regular season, and since then, they've managed to develop a quiet belief in their locker room that they're never out of a game, never out of a series.

"It's probably been built through the course of the year," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of his team's confidence. "I think having struggled - sometimes when you struggle, you have to work through things. By overcoming struggles, you can gain confidence from that.

"There's a lot of confidence coming out of the game last night, I think, because we believe that we can win. Our guys have shown that they've been able - especially down the stretch and in the playoffs, after a game that doesn't go our way - they've been able to respond."

It's clear to Subban why that's the case for the Predators, pinpointing the culture and leadership throughout the organization as the reasons why Nashville isn't hanging their heads after Game One heartbreak.

"Our team has been tested many times this season, whether we've had guys out of the lineup or we've gone through rough patches," Subban said. "We've always responded the right way… Anybody that's ever played professional sports, it's easy in a Stanley Cup game to come back in the room, and everybody is quiet, nervous. But that's not our hockey club. We know how good we can be. The way we responded was typical Nashville Predators."

The Preds expect Pittsburgh to be better in Game Two - improving from the 12 shots on goal they registered against Nashville in the first meeting - and they'll be aware of what the Penguins may bring in an attempt to break through the Predators defense and get more to the net.

"This entire playoff run, we've had guys buy in, doing the little things, do the right things that make your team successful," Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "We're just going to need more of that… If we have everyone buying into our testimony, everyone is aware what each guy is doing out there, it makes the game that much easier for us, and we can continue going in the right direction."

Video: Laviolette talks Pekka Rinne and responding to a loss

Laviolette said it clearly on Tuesday - he and his hockey club are in a results-based business right now. They begin with seven chances to win four games, and now they're down to six.

But six potential games equates to a lot of hockey. So as these Preds find themselves down 1-0 for the first time since they began their springtime journey, there's still plenty of optimism to go around. And flow it will.

"For the most part, we did a lot of good things," Ellis said. "If we play that way every night, we'll hopefully like the result at the end. Each game we need to keep getting better and better."

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