After yet another decisive win by the Nashville Predators, Game 5 moves back to the defending Champion Pittsburgh Penguins home ice. In what will come to a shock to no one Pittsburgh is thrilled about having the final two out of three games at home.
Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan said it best:
“These games are a lot closer than sometimes the score indicates. I think that was the case in our building [in Games 1 and 2] and I think that was the case in this building [Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for Games 3 and 4].”
Coach Sullivan makes a great point about the quality of hockey that is being played on both sides of the ice as neither team is consistently dominating the series. The Predators, after Games 1 and 2 dominated possession time and outshot the Penguins 64-39, while they held a 117-69 advantage in shot attempts. But really the only stat that matters is the goals that actually get through the goalies on each side.
Pittsburgh fans have grown uneasy with the play of goalie Matt Murray but blaming the defensive issues on him would be beyond unfair. Not only has the defense been suspect but the potent offensive display we saw in Pittsburgh has suddenly dissipated. Although, making a change now in the net for a pivotal Game 5 that will likely determine who wins the entire series would not be advisable.
On the other side Nashville has finally got its groove back and outscored the Penguins 9-2 in their building. With a stat sheet like that you would think Pittsburgh would be willing to try anything and everything to ensure Game 6 does not go back to Nashville. The Predators seem to have all the momentum swinging their way at the right time and will need to find a way to break through at PPG Paints Arena.
As far as predictions go: Nashville will find its way in Pittsburgh (finally) in Game 5 and bring the chance to clinch their first Stanley Cup championship in front of their passionate fan base. Nashville will win Game 5 by a score of 4-3 in OT, and the dejected Penguins will be left wondering what could have been as they muster through an uninspiring Game 6 in Nashville. Sorry, Penguins fans. Last year was magical but this is the year of the Predator.