Game Six: Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks (CHI Leads Series 3-2)
7 P.M. | United Center
TV: NBC | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators face the Chicago Blackhawks tonight in Game Six of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series after staving off elimination in Game Five on Thursday with a 5-2 victory over the Hawks.
Nashville trails 3-2 in the series and is 1-4 all-time in Game Sixes. The Preds have never played a Game Seven.
Earlier in the day on Friday, the Preds updated the status of Captain Shea Weber, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game Two. Weber will miss the remainder of the series with the Blackhawks due to his injury, and further updates will be given when they become available.
Via conference call on Friday, Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville named Scott Darling his starting goaltender in Game Six. Darling has started for the Hawks since Game Three, with Game Two the only contest in the series where he hasn't made an appearance.
After making his playoff debut in Game One and becoming the youngest player (20 years, 247 days) in Preds history to score a postseason goal in Game Two, Filip Forsberg scored three in Game Five to become the first Nashville skater to ever tally a postseason hat trick. The Ostervalla, Sweden, native is the fourth rookie in the past 70 years to score three goals in a playoff game in which his team is facing elimination and the third player in the last four years to post a playoff hat trick prior to his 21st birthday.
In the postseason, Forsberg leads all NHL rookies in points (4g-1a-5pts), average time on ice (21:10), shots (18) and power-play goals (tied, 1). He is tied for third among all League skaters in goals (4) and is tied for sixth in points (5).
Colin Wilson recorded the game-winning goal for the Preds in Thursday night’s Game Five, his fifth goal of the series. With five goals against the Hawks, Wilson established a franchise record for most goals by a Preds player in a single postseason series. His five goals in the 2015 playoffs come after tallying just one goal in his previous 13 playoff appearances.
Wilson holds the top spot in the NHL postseason in power-play points (4g) and has the League's second most goals (St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, 6). His five points (5g-0a-5pts) are tied for sixth in the League and his 16 shots are in the NHL’s Top 15.
The Preds have gone four consecutive games without allowing Chicago to score a power-play goal, tying the franchise postseason record; the team’s 88.2 percent success rate on the penalty kill is tied for fifth in the League. Nashville leads playoff teams with 207 shots in five games played; their 41.4 shots per game is also first in the League. In four of five games played, the Preds have outshot the Hawks, including maintaining the shot advantage in overtimes (Game 1, 23-15; Game 4, 20-18).
Craig Smith is three points shy of tying the Preds record for most points in a single playoff series (Joel Ward, 4g-4a-8pts in 2011 Western Conference Semifinal vs. Vancouver).
Preds Ready for Another Must Win:
The third period of Game Five could have been the final stanza of the season for the Predators. Instead, the team exploded for four tallies in the frame, including two more from Filip Forsberg to complete the first playoff hat trick in franchise history and claimed a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks to force Game Six tonight in Chicago.
With losses at the United Center in Games Three
and Four, a victory tonight is imperative for the Preds postseason run to continue. The third period output on Thursday was an encouraging sign for the Predators, a group whose confidence remains elevated.
“You don’t think too much about how your season could have ended after [the third] period [in Game Five], you just want to win the hockey game,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “It’s the same tonight, we want to win this hockey game. It’s starting 0-0 and 60 minutes could be played or more, we just have to win at the end. But it definitely gives us a lot of confidence with how we played in the third.”
“I think we’re very confident going into tonight’s game with how we’ve been playing as a group,” defenseman Victor Bartley said. “Things are starting to pay dividends. We’re continuing to hit players and wear them down a bit. We just have to continue to play that style of play and bring it into tonight.”
The mentality tonight remains the same as it did on Thursday; win and force another contest, lose and pack it all up. The Preds are more than up for the challenge.
“It’s an elimination game for us again, our backs are against the wall,” Bartley said. “But we’re going to come out swinging again tonight just like we have in the past and push for those first five, 10 minutes to try and take their fans out of it. Just play the style of play we need to be successful.”
Predators Game Day Video:Preds One-on-One: Ryan Ellis
What to Watch for: Willy and Brent's Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Morning Skate Update:
The Preds held a morning skate prior to tonight's Game Six in Chicago. Gabriel Bourque, who is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, was among this morning's participants. Forwards Craig Smith and Colin Wilson did not skate for the Preds, with Head Coach Peter Laviolette only updating Bourque's status after the session, who remains day-to-day.Nashville Morning Skate Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal
Bourque - Fisher - Arvidsson
Cullen - Jarnkrok - Santorelli
Stalberg - Gaustad - Beck
Defensemen Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Cody Franson, Victor Bartley and Anton Volchenkov all skated this morning, as well as goaltenders Pekka Rinne & Carter Hutton. Chicago Morning Skate Lines:
Saad - Toews - Hossa
Versteeg - Richards - Kane
Bickell - Vermette - Sharp
Desjardins - Kruger - Shaw