The chance remains this afternoon for the Nashville Predators to advance further than they ever have before.
Game Six between the Preds and the St. Louis Blues commences at 2 p.m. CT today at Bridgestone Arena, with Nashville holding a 3-2 series lead in Round Two. The Blues forced today's contest when they defeated the Predators by a 2-1 final in Game Five on Friday night in St. Louis. Nashville can't wait for the chance to eliminate their opponent once more, this time in front of their home crowd.
"We have a 3-2 series lead, and we're at home where we're 4-0 in the playoffs," center Ryan Johansen said. "We can't wait to get out there and feed off of that energy and atmosphere in that building, and hopefully stay successful as we've been there."
Although his seven-game point streak came to an end in Game Five, defenseman Ryan Ellis continues to lead the Preds in postseason scoring with four goals and nine points. Johansen, Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban have seven points apiece; Roman Josi and Colton Sissons each have six. Forsberg, Josi and James Neal have each scored three times, with Neal tallying three in his last four games. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has seven wins to go along with a .951 save percentage.
Jaden Schwartz, who scored the game-winner in Game Five, leads the Blues with four goals and eight points. Alexander Steen, who missed Game Five due to injury has seven points; Vladimir Sobotka and Joel Edmundson have six points each. Jake Allen is 6-4 in these playoffs with a .937 save percentage.
As the Predators look to make history once more, here are three things to watch for:
Video: Neal and Johansen preview Game Six
Goaltender Pekka Rinne has arguably been Nashville's best player throughout the playoffs, and if the Preds are to advance today, he'll have to be at the top of his game once more. The veteran netminder has allowed two goals or less in seven of nine games in these playoffs and one goal or less in five games.
His opening periods have been impressive, having stopped 73 of 74 shots faced (.986 SV%) with zero even-strength goals against. His goals-against average (1.41) and save percentage (.951) are tops in the League, and he's even better at home, owning a .959 save percentage through four games at Bridgestone Arena in these playoffs.
Video: STL@NSH, Gm4: Ellis cleans up rebound for PPG
Defense Into Offense:
Nashville's blue line doesn't show any signs of slowing when it comes to contributing at both ends of the ice. The team has only allowed 13 goals, seven less than St. Louis, the next closest team still remaining in the playoffs. Once on the offensive side of the puck, Preds defensemen have factored in on 14 of the last 16 goals and 18 of 25 in the playoffs, with 24 points overall coming from the backend.
Other than Ryan Ellis leading the team in scoring, P.K. Subban and Roman Josi have also helped to put the puck in the net. Josi posted his fifth point (3g-2a) in the last six games with an assist in Game Five, while Subban's helper was his sixth point (1g-5a) in the last six games.
Video: Coach Laviolette previews Game 6
After going scoreless in Round One, James Neal has found his scoring touch once more, having converted in three of his last four outings. He's registered at least one shot on goal in each of his nine games of these playoffs and saw 19:54 of ice time in Game Five, his second highest total of the postseason. If Neal can find the back of the net for the third consecutive game, it would be the second time he's attained the feat in his playoff career.
"It's been awesome to play at home," Neal said. "The fans have been amazing and the building has a ton of energy. It feels great in our rink to have that passion, and we feed off of it for sure, so we'll expect nothing less and we'll be excited for that energy [today]."
When You Go:
Game Six, presented by Jaguar Land Rover Nashville, comes with a 2 p.m. CT puck drop, with Arena doors opening at noon. All fans in attendance will receive a rally towel presented by Jaguar, Delta Dental and Renaissance Nashville. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a Plaza Party, presented by Lee Company.
Take It In:
Today's game can be seen nationally on NBC or heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.