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Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh

12 June 2017

"One thing we got going early on was we kind of broke the puck out as a group together", Hainsey said. Our guys have a tremendous amount of confidence in him.

The Predators are in a 3-2 hole with Game 6 coming up Sunday night in Nashville.

No matter how the ice has tilted one way or another, this Final has earned some extra attention for the Nashville hockey effect with catfish and country music artists, from surprise anthem singers to Carrie Underwood, the wife of Predators captain Mike Fisher. Rinne was hot at home again, re-establishing himself as the MVP if Nashville goes on to win the series. The two players have combined for one goal and two assists through the first four games.

All the good mojo Rinne generated while helping Nashville rally to tie the series at 2 vanished in a span of 20 minutes.

This may be the Predators' first time in the Stanley Cup Final, but they staved off elimination three times past year in playing a full 14 games through two rounds.

But the Predators had little to enjoy from this one.

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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.

"It's disappointing, for sure", Rinne said. "We have to win a road game".

It was a familiar showing for Rinne. He allowed three goals on nine shots in the first period.

Ron Hainsey has made it 6-0 Penguins over the Predators late in the second period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"I believe this team has a certain maturity to it, always starts with our leadership", Sullivan said. "So it's going to be fun if I get back out there". "Right now we've just got to focus on Game 6 at home and put all our energy in that one".

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 very clear message that the first-timers are a clear threat to become first-time winners.

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Rinne allowed three first-period goals in a span of 4:11 in Game 1. "I came here well-prepared and we just didn't have it tonight".

Stopping them completely? Even Nashville defenders Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and All-Star P.K. Subban are susceptible to an off night as they find out just how hard it is to keep track of Pittsburgh's superstar forwards. That shift led to a Predators' penalty and the game's first goal on Pittsburgh's ensuing power play, as Schultz beat Rinne with a point shot that went between his pads. Kessel ended a six-game goal drought 8:02 into the second.

The Predators are 9-1 at home in the playoffs, a place they will need to be a haven once again if they want to extend their improbable Cup run back to Pittsburgh.

It wasn't the worst blowout of this postseason, though; there were two 7-0 routs, including a Pittsburgh win over Ottawa in the Eastern Conference final. I think we've got to play with urgency.

Two consecutive victories don't give coach Peter Laviolette belief that his Nashville Predators have momentum against the Pittsburgh Penguins going into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to play Game 4 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday.

The Predators will have center Colton Sissons for Game 6 after the National Hockey League automatically reviewed his cross-check of Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta's face inside the final minute of Game 6.

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Predators on brink as Rinne struggles again in Pittsburgh