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The Preds Have Arrived, Time To Take What They Want

Posted: 4:56 PM, Jun 05, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-05 21:57:15Z

Music City became a hockey town Saturday in the eyes of the world. A deafening home crowd at Bridgestone Arena and a bonkers sea of 50,000 people watching the game on big screens outside.

Any (incorrect) perceptions that Nashville hadn't embraced hockey or the Predators were put to rest right then and there.

And then the Predators beat the Penguins 5-1 to make this Stanley Cup Final a series. The win firmly entrenched them on hockey's biggest stage heading into game four Monday night 7 p.m.

It'a time to go take what they believe is theirs.

It's understandable if this young Predators' team had some nerves for the first couple games in Pittsburgh, a bit of doubt after falling down 2-0 in the series, or a slight case of stage freight when they took the ice for game three in front of an atmosphere the hockey world has never seen before.

But they seemed to settle down in the second period when the chances they had created for the previous seven periods finally started finding the back of the net.

Roman Josi tied the game with a Power Play blast and Frederick Gaudreau scored just 42 seconds later. By the time James Neal scored just before the second period ended it seemed like everybody had settled in to just playing.

That includes goaltender Pekka Rinne, who faced criticism for giving up eight goals in the first two games. After allowing an early Jake Guentzel goal in game three, Rinne rebounded to stop the final 26 shots he faced.

That was the Rinne that helped carry the Predators to their first ever Stanley Cup Final and that's the guy who will have to keep showing up in goal for the Preds' to knock off the defending champs in this series.

The Predators always believed they could win this series. Now they have proof they can do it.

But they have to hold serve at home in game four. Win Monday and the series is condensed to a best-of-three contest for the Stanley Cup. Lose and the Penguins hold a commanding 3-1 series lead with two chances to close it out at home.

The forecasted rain on a work day will likely mean the crowd downtown will be smaller Monday, but that's okay. The focus of game four will be less about the show of Smashville and more about it's team.

The Predators proved Saturday they belong on hockey's grand stage. Now we find out if they're good enough to go take it's ultimate prize.