Another milestone in the franchise history of the Nashville Predators will be achieved by sundown.
As the Stanley Cup Final shifts to Music City, the Preds and Bridgestone Arena will host the Cup Final for the first time with Game Three tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nashville trails 2-0 in the series that saw Pittsburgh win Games One and Two at PPG Paints Arena, and the chance now exists for the Predators to take two at home, just as their opponents have done.
The Predators remain without the services of Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala, and forward Colin Wilson did not participate in Games One or Two due to injury. Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan said Friday that forward Nick Bonino is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and will be a gametime decision tonight.
Filip Forsberg continues to lead the Preds with eight goals and 15 points in the postseason, followed by Ryan Ellis with 12, and then a four-way tie between Colton Sissons, Viktor Arvidsson, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban with 11 points. Sissons has tallied on six occasions while Josi, Ellis and James Neal have five goals each. Forward Pontus Aberg has four points (2g-2a) in his last four games and Captain Mike Fisher has three assists in the Final thus far. Pekka Rinne is 12-6 for the Preds with a .929 save percentage in the playoffs.
Evgeni Malkin paces the Penguins with 26 points, followed by Sidney Crosby with 22 and Phil Kessel with 20. Forward Jake Guentzel has 12 goals in the playoffs - including three in the Final - while Malkin has nine. Matt Murray is 5-1 with a .943 save percentage in the postseason.
Video: Preds host first ever Stanley Cup Final game
As the Predators look for their first win in the Stanley Cup Final, it's all about two items for the home team:
Head Coach Peter Laviolette said it best on Thursday:
"You would think at the possibility of leaving Pittsburgh without a win, that might shake the confidence," Laviolette told the media upon returning to Nashville. "I can tell you that it doesn't. I just met with the guys. I can see it in their eyes."
Indeed, the Predators enter tonight's game with a slew of confidence, despite the fact they trail Pittsburgh 2-0. There are reasons for it - namely that the Preds have been happy with at least five out of the six periods of hockey they've played to this point of the Final. There aren't gross amounts of errors that need to be corrected. Instead, the Predators say there's no reason to think they can't take at least one game at home over the next three days - maybe two.
"For the majority of the playoffs, all but maybe five or six periods, that's out of over 50 periods, our guys have played really well," Laviolette said. "There's a lot of confidence, I think, that comes from that. When you're doing the right things, you're winning hockey games, you feel good about the game you're playing. I think you can take confidence from that. I think we've put in a lot of time to build ourselves as a team that is ready to play, is ready to win, and we're confident about our ability to do that."
Video: Ellis, Forsberg and Fisher preview "must-win" Game 3
Nashville's 7-1 record inside of Bridgestone Arena during these playoffs is no fluke. Their lone loss, an overtime decision against Anaheim, saw them tie the game with less than a minute to play, making the building louder perhaps than it's ever been.
The Predators will expect a similar level of energy tonight, being that Nashville has never hosted an NHL hockey game under these circumstances before. So the boost the Preds will receive from the home fans could be just enough to bump them over the edge and put them right back into the series.
"We'll use the energy in the arena," Neal said. "Everyone's going to be pulling for us and cheering us on. It's a place we feel comfortable and we're confident that we can win a game and I think that's all we have to focus on. We'll be ready to go and excited to go."
Video: Laviolette keeps his lineup under wraps for Game 3
When You Go:
This will be a pregame party you won't want to miss.
The Plaza Party presented by Lee Company will begin at 12 p.m. Fans are invited to take a swing at the Smash Car, listen to the live DJ, play street hockey, purchase concessions, catch the game on a giant screen and play family friendly games.
Broadway Smash: Preds Party with a Purpose will open at 3:30 p.m. CT on Broadway with Country Music Hall of Famer Alan Jackson set to take the stage at Fifth and Broadway at 4:45 p.m. CT in advance of Game Three.
Broadway will be closed between Fifth Avenue and Third Avenue and large screens showing the game will be placed on the stage and around the event site. Screens will only be on Broadway, not in Walk of Fame Park.
Early entry to Bridgestone Arena will begin at 4 p.m. CT via the Nissan Main Entrance for the 7 p.m. game, with all fans set to receive t-shirts presented by Bridgestone, rally towels presented by Vanderbilt and a Stanley Cup Final light-up bracelet.
For more information on all of the pregame activities, visit the Preds Playoff Hub.
Take It In:
Game Three can be seen on NBCSN in the United States, CBC in Canada and heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Fox Sports Tennessee will carry live pre- and postgame coverage before and after the game.