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Game Six: Ducks vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

  Game Six: Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators (ANA Leads Series 3-2)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | Tickets
TV: FS-TN, CNBC | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.

The Nashville Predators are on the brink. Down 3-2, the Preds host the Anaheim Ducks in Game Six of their Western Conference First Round series tonight, leaving Anaheim one win away from advancing. Nashville has lost three in a row after taking a 2-0 series lead, including a 5-2 loss in Game Five.

“Everybody knows that it’s do or die, and it's one game and we have to win. That’s the bottom line,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “But it’s not going to get better if you start worrying about that. You know the facts and the fact that if we lose, that’s it for the season, so you have the mindset that you know how important it is. But at the same time, you try to just focus on bringing the best you can bring.”

Ryan Johansen and Miikka Salomaki scored for the Preds in Game Five, the first goal of the series for each player. Salomaki's goal was also the first of his career in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Roman Josi led all Nashville Predators in time-on-ice (26:49) and shots (5). It was the third time in his career he's posted at least five shots in a single playoff game.

Colin Wilson added an assist in Game Five, giving him 11 points in 24 career playoff games (7g-4a). Six of those goals have occurred in his last 11 postseason contests, including five during last season's Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Chicago Blackhawks. Wilson's seven playoff goals (all as a member of the Preds) rank him in the Top Five of playoff goals in franchise history.

Wilson paces the team offensively, posting four points (1g-3a) in the series. Nine different players have scored Nashville’s nine goals so far. Josi, Shea Weber and Filip Forsberg have three points each. Rinne has a 3.02 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage in the series.

Ryan Getzlaf leads the Ducks with five points, followed by Andrew Cogliano, Jakob Silfverberg and Sami Vatanen with four points each. Getzlaf, Cogliano, Ryan Kesler, Jamie McGinn and Nate Thompson have two goals each. Goaltender Frederik Andersen is 3-0 with a .966 save percentage for the Ducks.
Nashville has trailed a series 3-2 on five previous occasions, losing Game Six in every elimination game. However, the Ducks have lost a Game Seven at home after having a 3-2 series lead in each of the last three seasons. Anaheim has also never won a series after trailing 2-0 (0-6 all-time). Should Nashville win on Monday, it would be the team's first time to participate in a Game Seven in franchise history.

A Must-Win Game Six:

A team in a 3-2 series hole usually has some areas of their game that needs improvement. The Predators are no different as Game Six in Nashville looms.

“If you’re down 3-2, everyone can do something better; just stay focused, create more offense, but 5-on-5, be better defensively and wait for your chance and wait for special teams,” Mike Ribeiro said following the Predators morning skate on Monday. The center also took personal responsibility for some of the errors that have Nashville facing elimination when they take on the Anaheim Ducks this evening.

While studying past mistakes can be beneficial, dwelling on them doesn’t help, and according to winger Filip Forsberg, the Predators are presented with a can’t-miss opportunity to tie the series tonight. The Preds skaters felt the push their hometown fans gave them in Game Four on Thursday, and much like they did in Game Five of their 2015 Round One matchup with Chicago, they’re hoping to use that extra energy to stave off elimination.

“It’s a great opportunity playing in front of our fans, and we want to keep playing,” Forsberg said. “That’s what we’re here for. That’s what we’re going out to do tonight.”

Craig Smith to Return?

Forward Craig Smith participated in the team’s morning skate on Monday. He remains listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury that kept him out of Games Four and Five (and the majority of Game Three).

“Just his speed [has been missed], he’s a great skater. He really skates well and shoots the puck well, if he’s in the lineup he’ll be contributing in that way,” former linemate Filip Forsberg said.

Mike Ribeiro, usually the centerman on the Forsberg and Smith line, voiced similar sentiments to Forsberg’s:

“He’s a guy who skates really well and puts a lot of pressure on those [defensemen] to score a big goal. He works really hard and creates turnovers and creates offense for us. He’s a big part of the puzzle, and hopefully he’ll be back tonight,” Ribeiro said of Smith.

Notes: A pregame party on the Bridgestone Arena plaza, featuring the smash car, begins at 4 p.m. (CT). Doors to the arena open at 5 p.m. Fans attending Game Six will receive a Gold rally towel presented by the Tennessee Lottery.

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