With the Stanley Cup Final now a best-of-three series, the Nashville Predators face a reality if they are to win it all: They need to win at least once on the road.
They have a 5-5 record on the road in these playoffs, although that record took a hit earlier in this series with a pair of defeats in Pittsburgh, despite the Predators controlling the play during large portions of those games. Think back to the opener, when Nashville didn’t allow a shot on goal for 37 minutes.
And then Jake Guentzel snapped that by scoring on the first shot against Pekka Rinne since the first period and that turned out to be the winner. The biggest question facing the Predators after two games in Pittsburgh was the play of their goaltender, who entered this series with a .941 save percentage and as a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite.
The series flipped in Nashville, in part because Rinne returned to his earlier form.
“We know we can play better in this building,” said Predators captain Mike Fisher on Wednesday. “We know we’re going to have to. This is a team that Games 1 and 2, there were a few minutes where we liked our game for some of it, then other parts of it, they took over. They capitalized. We did a better job of managing the game that way in Games 3 and 4.”
One of the telling statistics in this series is that both teams have yet to win on the road — a trend the Penguins hope will continues with home ice advantage in Game 5 and, if necessary, Game 7.
“I’ve said it a few times, usually desperation wins the day,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette on Thursday. “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.
“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.”