Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Preds leaning on Rinne to force Penguins back to Pittsburgh

Although most coaches preach that wins and losses are best forgotten quickly, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette wanted his players to hold on to the sting of being overrun in a 6-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. "I think we're an extremely confident group, and we've had a lot of success, especially down the stretch in the regular season through the playoffs".

Pekka Rinne - Nashville's netminder has apparently run into his Kryptonite, and that's playing in Pittsburgh. "But we've got to play a better game".

"I think we turned the page", added Crosby. We have to do a better job. "We've proven that we can and we have in the past, and there's a lot of confidence that we will in a couple days".

It looks nothing like Games 1 through 4, in which the Predators controlled the flow of play most of the time.

The vibe inside PPG Paints Arena for Game 5 on Thursday night figures to be more anxious than anticipatory after the Predators evened the series at 2-2 with a pair of vintage performances on home ice that sent "Smashville" into a frenzy and delivered a clear message that the first-timers are a threat to become first-time winners.

Crosby missed all of one game.

They say that is their focus much more than trying to prevent the Penguins from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in their building.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel played a role in finishing, but it all started from the back end with a style of play that emulates Letang. He had two goals and zero assists in his previous five games. "I think we have to carry that mindset we had going into tonight and have it going into Nashville".

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Game 6 is Sunday night in Nashville.

At the tail end of the first period, and with the Penguins leading 2-0, Crosby and Subban clashed near the boards behind the net, with Crosby holding Subban down and repeatedly pushing his head into the ice. We were "just trying to move it up to our forwards and play the way we've been playing all year".

"I don't understand it", he said. It's about going back and forth and back and forth. "Last chapter doesn't have anything to do with it".

Murray was on the ice early for practice on Wednesday afternoon, working through an array of standard drills - some puck-handling, some shots from in tight - alongside Marc-Andre Fleury and goalie coach Mike Bales.

"Sometimes just every game tends to take on its own identity", he said. "So we want to take advantage of that and just put our best foot forward and win a hockey game at home here".

Yet Crosby doesn't gush, at least not publicly.

With 90 seconds left in the first period Thursday night, all that lingering tension came to a boil, leading the face of the National Hockey League to do something unCrosbylike. In Game 5, Crosby fired back and it went beyond gamesmanship after the final whistle.

For those seeking omens, there's this: the Penguins clinched each of their previous Cup titles on the road, winning at Minnesota in 1991, at Chicago in 1992, at Detroit in 2009 and at San Jose a year ago.

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