Bridgestone Arena will host the biggest game in Nashville Predators’ history Monday night.
With a chance to lift or ignore the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl at the end of the night, the Predators know that a win would put them in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. Another big-time country star will sing the Star-Spangled Banner and the crowd will be raucous in anticipation of what a victory would mean.
All that build up; all that anticipation; all that energy in the building could actually play into the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, who will attempt to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 Wednesday night.
“The pressure, the pressure is on them to win,” said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. “They are one game away, which is pretty special for a team to move on. For us, obviously our season’s on the line. So we’re the desperate team. But at the end of the day, I think, they’re at home. They’re going to lay it all out there in terms of trying to win this game in front of their fans and move on to the Stanley Cup Final.”
The Ducks getting on the board first could do wonders in stifling the energy in the building, but it may not lead to their ultimate goal, as the team scoring first in this series is 1-4.
Both sides will be missing key pieces in Game 6. Nashville will be without Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen again, while Anaheim will miss Patrick Eaves and Rickard Rakell. Ducks goaltender John Gibson, who left Game 5 after the first period with a lower-body injury, took part in the morning skate and could be back in net.
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The last time Anaheim faced elimination they played possibly their best game of the postseason in Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers, a 2-1 victory. They’ve bounced back after losses in Games 1 and 3 against the Predators with much better performances. They’re going to have to answer the bell once again to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.
“You can’t play like your life’s on the line. I think you’ve got to play with the mentality of attacking,” said Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “I don’t think you can sit back and just hope that you make it to another game… I think we’ve proven that that’s when we play our best hockey. We did it last time we were here. We had a great first period where we outshot them heavily and set up the tone for the rest of the game.”
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