No. 1 Hurricanes at No. 4 Predators
9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN360, BSSO
Carolina leads best-of-7 series, 3-2
The Nashville Predators will try to avoid elimination when they play the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.
Carolina defeated Nashville 3-2 in overtime Tuesday to take a 3-2 lead in the series. The home team has won every game in the series thus far.
If the Hurricanes win they would play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Second Round.
The Predators liked much of what they did in Game 5 and won’t look to change much in Game 6.
“We know what we need to do, we’ve been through this before,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “That’s why you go about your business the way you go about your business in the regular season. We’ve come through in a lot of situations when we had a tough loss and we had to come back to win a game. We have a lot of confidence in who we are and how we’ll respond.”
Teams that hold a 3-2 lead in a best-of-7 series are 326-87 (.789) winning the series, including 8-0 last season. Carolina is 7-0 when it has a 3-2 series lead; Nashville is 1-9 when trailing 3-2 in a series.
Here are three keys for Game 6:
1. Slavin likely good to go
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is hoping to go with the same lineup as Game 5, which would mean defenseman Jaccob Slavin would play in his second straight game. Slavin led the Hurricanes with 26:08 of ice time and had an assist on forward Martin Necas‘ game-tying goal in the third period of Game 5 after missing the previous three games with a lower-body injury. The Hurricanes expect him to have an impact again Thursday.
“He’s a world-class athlete and also a leader on our team,” defenseman Brett Pesce said. “You can’t replace a guy like that. He was battling too. Obviously he’s dinged up and the boys appreciate him coming back and fighting for us.”
2. Get past Game 5
The Predators aren’t dwelling on the fact that they could be ahead 3-2 in the series if they could have protected the 2-1 lead they held until Hurricanes forward Martin Necas scored at 12:55 of the third period of Game 5. Positive thinking helped them rebound from an 8-11-0 start to the regular season to take the No. 4 seed in the Discover Central Division, and they’ll take the same approach Thursday.
“There are losses that happen throughout a season, throughout a playoff series,” forward Colton Sissons said. “We know you can’t be stewing in the past. You have to move forward. They did the same thing with tough overtime losses they bounced back from and had a big win. We’re capable of moving on. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
3. Staal continues to capitalize
Hurricanes center Jordan Staal scored in overtime to win Game 5, the second overtime playoff goal of his NHL career. He became the fourth player to score multiple postseason overtime goals with the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers, joining Niclas Wallin (three), Cory Stillman (two) and Kevin Dineen (two).
Staal’s teammates aren’t surprised their captain, who has scored five points (four goals, one assist) in five games, keeps producing.
“He’s our leader, a big-time player, and big-time players show up for big-time moments,” Carolina forward Warren Foegele said. “We all try to follow in ‘Jordo’s steps. He’s our leader and it was great to see him get that.”
Hurricanes projected lineup
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Warren Foegele — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook — Steven Lorentz — Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Jake Bean — Jani Hakanpaa
Scratched: Morgan Geekie, Jake Gardiner, Maxime Lajoie, Max McCormick, Drew Shore, Ryan Suzuki, Roland McKeown, James Reimer
Injured: Cedric Paquette (lower body)
Predators projected lineup
Filip Forsberg — Ryan Johansen — Matt Duchene
Calle Jarnkrok — Mikael Granlund — Luke Kunin
Nick Cousins — Erik Haula — Eeli Tolvanen
Yakov Trenin — Colton Sissons — Tanner Jeannot
Roman Josi — Alexandre Carrier
Mattias Ekholm — Ryan Ellis
Ben Harpur — Matt Benning
Scratched: Mathieu Olivier, Erik Gudbranson, Rocco Grimaldi, Brad Richardson, Tyler Lewington, David Farrance, Michael McCarron, Jeremy Davies, Rem Pitlick, Dante Fabbro, Kasimir Kaskisuo, Philip Tomasino
Injured: Viktor Arvidsson (upper body), Luca Sbisa (lower body), Mark Borowiecki (upper body)
Jeannot will replace Olivier on the fourth line. The Predators have alternated between the forwards being in the lineup the past three games.