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Game Six: Sharks vs. Preds

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

  Game Six: San Jose Sharks vs. Nashville Predators (SJS Leads Series 3-2)
  8 P.M. (CT) | Bridgestone Arena | Tickets
TV: CNBC | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Presented by Nissan

The Nashville Predators return home needing a victory to keep their postseason run alive. The Preds are down 3-2 in their Round Two series to the San Jose Sharks after falling 5-1 in Game Five, and will need a victory tonight to force a Game Seven for the second time in as many rounds.

Nashville has been in this situation before, finding themselves in a 3-2 hole to the Anaheim Ducks in the First Round. The Preds took Game Six in Nashville, and then won their first Game Seven in franchise history to punch their ticket to the Second Round. They'll need to do just that once more.

“We’ve been through it, but now we have to go and do it again tomorrow in our building, and we’ll be happy to get home in front of our fans," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "They’ve proven to be a really positive influence for us in the playoffs. The energy has been great, and we’ll look to turn things around [tonight].”

Forward Colin Wilson leads all Predators in points during this year's playoffs, posting 12 points (4g-8a) in 12 games. Wilson has 17 points (9g-8a) in his last 18 games and is currently on a six-game point streak, a postseason franchise record. Joel Ward previously posted five-game streaks in the playoffs on two occasions during the 2011 playoffs.

Mike Fisher scored the lone goal for the Preds in Game Five, his team-leading fifth goal of the playoffs. The goal extended his point streak to five games (4g-2a). James Neal posted his third assist of the playoffs. He is now on a three-game point streak (2g-2a). The line of Fisher, Wilson and Neal have combined to score Nashville's last five goals in the series.

Wilson and Neal have four goals each for the Preds, followed by Shea Weber, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Johansen, who have all tallied three times in the postseason. Defenseman Roman Josi has dished out eight assists to lead the team and is second in points, followed by Fisher, Weber, Neal, Ekholm and Johansen, all with seven. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 6-6 in these playoffs, but is 3-0 in his last three home starts.
Brent Burns and Logan Couture are tied for the San Jose lead in points with 13 each. Joe Pavelski leads the team with eight goals and is second in points with 12. Couture has found the back of the net five times; Burns has done so on four occasions. Goaltender Martin Jones is 7-3 in the postseason, but lost his two starts at Bridgestone Arena in the series.

The Predators have not lost a game in regulation at Bridgestone Arena against the Sharks since Feb. 25, 2012, posting an 8-0-1 record in that span (regular season and playoffs). They have a combined 4-11 record in playoff games against San Jose, including a 4-4 record in Nashville.

Notes: Fans attending Game Six presented by Nissan will receive a Gold hat and rally towel. A plaza party sponsored by Lee Company, and featuring the Smash Car, begins at 5 p.m. (CT). Doors to the arena will open at 6 p.m.

Different Effort Required:

The Nashville Predators know Game Five in San Jose – a 5-1 loss to give the Sharks a 3-2 series lead – wasn’t their best. Now, Nashville will have to bring their finest in order to keep their season alive.

The performance in Game Five, the Preds say, is uncharacteristic of how they can play, heading into Game Six tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The club also believes they were the better team in Games Two, Three and Four of the series against the Sharks. Knowing the kind of effort they’ve put forth against San Jose over large stretches of time gives the Preds confidence heading into their third elimination game of these playoffs.

“We were on our heels too much, for whatever reason,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Game Five. “I’m not going to sit here and make excuses, we didn’t play the game we need to play in order to be successful. We’ll look to change that tonight, get things going in a different direction, but the previous three games are more of a representation of who we are as a team and the way we need to play in order to be successful. The last game was not; we won’t find success playing that way.”

The Predators also faced a 3-2 deficit in Round One against Anaheim, eventually prevailing in seven games. Before they can even think about returning to San Jose, Laviolette and his group must first focus on what’s made them successful, in both Rounds One and Two, in order to arrive at that point.

“We shouldn’t rest on that, we shouldn’t just assume that it’s going to happen,” Laviolette said. “There’s a lot that goes into those situations. I do think that you can take some confidence from that, knowing that you’ve been here before and that you’ve done it before. We have to make sure that the mindset is right. We have to change our game and our attitude from Game Five to Game Six to be in a better place. Knowing our guys, I’m sure they’ll do that tonight, but we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to dig out of a hole that we’re in and a situation that we’re in.”

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