The winner of Game Five between the Predators and Penguins will have control of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Predators and Penguins now find themselves in a best of three series as the Stanley Cup Final is knotted up at 2-2. If Nashville wants to win its first Cup, it will have to win away from Bridgestone arena. Neither team has been able to grab a win away from home during the series thus far.
The Predators outscored the Penguins 9-2 over the course of Game Three and Four at home as they managed to tie the series at 2-2 handing them the edge when it comes to momentum. It may not be a lot of momentum seeing as how there were two days between games Four and Five, but you can’t ever discount back-to-back wins.
The Predators are 5-5 on the road during these playoffs and in order to get that record to 6-5 and take control of the Stanley Cup Final, there are three things that must happen.
Don’t Take An Eye Off Of Malkin
The Predators did an exceptional job at shutting down Evgeni Malkin in games Three and Four and that will need to be the theme again in Game Five for the Preds to grab a win in Pittsburgh.
The Russian forward had only two shots in games One and Two and both found the back of the net. Malkin is not only one of the most lethal players on the Penguins roster, but in the entire NHL. There is a reason he is leading the playoffs in points with 26 in 23 games.
P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm will be matched up with Malkin’s line which features Phil Kessel, as well. This matchup is already turning into the battle of the series.
Be More Dangerous
The Penguins managed to create 13 high-danger scoring chances in Game Four during even strength situations, their highest total in each of the first three contests of the series. In fact, the Pens combined for a total of 13 high-danger chances in the first three games.
The Predators manage to take Game Four, but allowing 13 high-danger scoring chances to the defending Cup champions isn’t the greatest recipe for success, especially in their own barn. The Preds managed 10 high-danger scoring chances in Game Four scoring on three of those chances, and that trend will need to continue in Game Five.
The story of Game One and Game Two was the Penguins making the most of their opportunities while the Preds copied that script, for the most part, in games Three and Four. Nashville had 13 high-danger chances through the first two games of the series while Pittsburgh managed only seven. The Preds scored four goals over the course of the first two games while the Pens lit the lamp nine times.
Feed The Prince
Filip Forsberg’s lone goal in the Cup Final thus far was an empty-netter in Game Four, but the young Swede has created a number of chances throughout the series. With that being said, Forsberg is due to have a big night on the scoresheet.
Forsberg leads all Nashville forwards with 36 total shot attempts during 5-on-5-play during the Cup Final. In total, Forsberg has 12 shots on goal during the series and is coming off of a four shot night in Game Four. And the Preds had seven scoring chances during 5-on-5 play when Prince Filip was on the ice, the highest total since Game One of the series when the team managed eight.
There is no question that the Penguins have zoned in on Forsberg during this series, but Game Four seemed to be the game when he was his most noticeable of the series and found his stride. Any bit of confidence he picked up during Game Four is a major boost to Nashville heading into Game Five.
Stats via Natural Stat Trick.