NASVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators don’t have their top center, and their captain is day to day with an upper-body injury.
They still have Pekka Rinne in net.
And the Predators have a chance at history on their own ice, a win away from the first Stanley Cup Final berth in the franchise history.
As coach Peter Laviolette put it, the guys know what’s at stake.
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Standing in their way? The Anaheim Ducks, the only team to beat them in their home rink in the playoffs over the past two postseasons.
The Predators returned home with a 3-2 Western Conference finals lead after a 3-1 victory over the Ducks in Anaheim on Saturday led by Rinne, who is 7-3 in the Honda Center in the postseason. To avoid a return trip for a Game 7 to test that once again, they can eliminate the Ducks on Monday night in Game 6.
“We obviously know what’s at stake,” forward Colin Wilson said Sunday. “It is one game at a time, but we know our next win puts us in contention for the Stanley Cup. So it’s something we’re focused on, but it is just about that next game, getting the next win.”
The Predators are 10-1 at Bridgestone Arena the past two postseasons, and another record crowd is expected for what will be the biggest sporting event in Nashville history not counting the fans watching just outside the building. They could hear the cheering fans the instant they stepped off the plane, and Laviolette said he knows Monday night will be crazy.
That leaves it up to the Predators to handle business on the ice.
“We got to put our foot on the gas pedal again, and make sure we’re ready to play,” Laviolette said.
Being in position to win the Campbell Bowl on home ice seemed remote Friday when the Predators announced their top scorer, center Ryan Johansen , would miss the rest of the postseason after emergency surgery to repair compartment syndrome on his left thigh. They…