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It’s now essentially gone from a best-of-seven series to a best-of-three series. If the Predators have any chance at the Cup, they need to take Bridgestone’s energy to the PPG Paints Arena ice and skate away with at least one road win.
In the Game 4 victory, Preds netminder Pekka Rinne made 23 saves, contributing to his and his team’s 9-1 home playoff record this year. Rinne told the NHL:
“You always have ups and downs, you try to stay even keeled. I don’t want to really look back yet. I mean we have work to be done, but I’m sure at the end of the day when you look back, it’s a roller coaster and it’s an emotional ride. It’s no different, these finals. In the first two games, we did a lot of good things. Personally, wasn’t really happy with mine, but obviously these two games have been huge for us and personally too.”
Despite playing only nine games and tallying one assist in the regular season, forward Frederick Gaudreau scored the game-winning goal (a pretty wraparound that passed a challenge for game four) in the last two games–goals two and three of his six postseason showings.
Captain Mike Fisher told the NHL what an asset Gaudreau has been for playoffs:
“He’s been unbelievable for us, the way he’s come in. He’s been so good, timely goals and composed. He definitely belongs, and he’s been a huge part of our success and it’s good to see for sure.”
Also tallying for the Preds were Calle Jarnkrok for a 1-0 lead in the first, which was followed by a Sidney Crosby goal before the period ended, Gaudreau’s 2-1 game winner and Viktor Arvidsson‘s 3-1 goal in the second, and a wrister that extended the lead from Filip Forsberg in the final period.
Rinne emphasized the need for a road win to media Tuesday:
“I feel like by now the confidence level at home is really high. The way we play at home in front of our fans. So you try to bottle that feeling and bring it to Pittsburgh. Play the same way. Go there, do the same thing.”
They won’t likely be bottling flying catfish and goalie chants for the trip, but they hope to utilize the momentum (and from two strong victories as they head in to Game 5.
Mattias Ekholm told press he hopes the team can ride this confidence.
“It’s going to be a big challenge on the road, but I have a lot of confidence in this group and the way we played in the first two games in Pittsburgh. I think everyone should come in with a lot of confidence.”
Meanwhile, the Penguins want to turn what they saw as better play with disappointing results during Game 4 into a victory back home, Crosby told media after the loss.
“It’s the most consistent [effort] as far as generating chances. We found a different level there tonight, and didn’t get the result we wanted.”
“You can’t forget, regardless of what happens in a game or throughout a series, they’re the Cup champions.
“The details at this point of the season are so important, and everybody seems to be paying attention to those details. Now it’s almost like the first four games are a wash. They don’t even matter now. It’s best of three, and at the end of the day we’ve got to elevate our game.”
Preds head coach Peter Laviolette talked about the mental aspects at this point.
“I’ve said it a few times, usually desperation wins the day. If you’ve got a team that has momentum and a team that’s got desperation, for me anyway, the scarier team is the one that’s got desperation.
2-2 series right now, I’m not sure where it lies. They still have home ice. Desperation should probably still fall on our side here where we know we’ve got to win a game in Pittsburgh. We know we’ve got to win one road game and then a home game to boot.
Right now I’m not sure that there’s a momentum or a desperation. I think you’re probably going to see two teams that are ready to play hockey and fight hard for one win.”
The remaining series:
- Game 5: 8 p.m. E.T. Thursday in Pittsburgh on NBC
- Game 6: 8 p.m. E.T. Sunday in Nashville on NBC
- Game 7, if needed: 8:00 p.m. E.T. Wednesday in Pittsburgh on NBC