Game 1 Success Key To Predators' Playoff Run

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 19:51:21-04

While the Stanley Cup Final is a significantly bigger stage than the Predators have played on before in their history, they are prepared for the task in front of them against the Penguins.

Three times in this playoff run have the Predators started a series on the road, and all three times the Preds have won game one and stolen home ice advantage away in the process.

In order to beat the defending champion Penguins, the Preds will have to win at least once on the road at PPG Arena. The way they see it, they might as well get it out of the way early.

"There's only one opportunity to win game one and we've looked at that in every series," Predators defenseman Yannick Weber said. "I think we came out strong in every game one so far and it will be the same tonight."

The Predators have put together the NHL's best road record during the postseason, partly due to necessity of having the lowest seed in the entire playoff field. The Preds are 5-3 on the road through the first three rounds, a far cry from the team's early season road struggles.

"We started off pretty bad on the road," Predators forward Filip Forsberg said. "But midway through the season we found a way to play and from there we've just been growing and growing and now we feel really comfortable playing on the road."

A big reason for the road turnaround, and the Preds' playoff run in general, has been the spectacular play of Pekka Rinne. The 6-5 Finnish goaltender has posted two road shutouts and allowed just 1.81 goals in the playoffs, the second lowest goals against average of any conference champion ever.

Now Rinne, who matched his age with his 34th career playoff win in the Western Conference clincher against the Ducks, heads into his first ever Stanley Cup Final game, and the Preds need him to be superb again.

"Although Pekka has not been in this situation before, he's been in situations where he's played for his country in big games and always delivered," said Predators head coach Peter Laviolette when asked about Rinne's readiness for the Cup Final stage. "I think there's a good confidence inside our room with our goaltending."

Confidence is a big thing in sports and these Preds have tons of it. They believed through the struggles of the regular season and as underdogs through the first three rounds.

And they believe they can beat the defending champions in the Final. They're the hot team with the hottest goaltender on the planet.

"We just believe that we can win," forward Austin Watson said at Sunday's Media Day. "(We believe) that going into each game we're capable of winning that game and we're going to win that game. We're just looking at one game at a time. We've got an opportunity to win game one and we'll be ready."

The Predators stand just four wins away from capturing the greatest prize in all of sports in the Stanley Cup. But they're focus is on game one and game one alone for now.