Late-game heroics in game five brought the Carolina Hurricanes back from the brink of disaster in their first-round series against the Nashville Predators, and now they have a chance to close out the series on Thursday night in Tennessee.
To end this series in six games, though, they will have to do something that neither team has done through five games - win on the road.
Their first two games in Bridgestone Arena ended in heartbreaking double-overtime fashion, so some demons need to be exercised tonight.
To the surprise of no one, Rod Brind’Amour confirmed on Thursday that Alex Nedeljkovic would be the game-six starter. Carolina’s rookie goalie has started in all five games to this point and has a .927 save percentage. His roughest starts have come in Nashville, though, where he has made some uncharacteristic mistakes to go with a .907 save percentage in these playoffs.
Brind’Amour expects the Hurricanes to roll with the same lineup that claimed a game-five victory, which means that Jaccob Slavin should be good to go for back-to-back games for the first time in this series.
Here’s how the Canes will look tonight:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Warren Foegele - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Brock McGinn - Steven Lorentz - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Jake Bean - Jani Hakanpaa
Injuries: Cedric Paquette (lower-body)
Scratches: Morgan Geekie, Max McCormick, Drew Shore, Ryan Suzuki, Joakim Ryan, Jake Gardiner, Maxime Lajoie, Joey Keane, Roland McKeown, Antoine Bibeau, James Reimer
Slavin’s nagging injury isn’t the only one that has brought constant question marks into this series. Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson hasn’t played since game two due to an upper-body injury and is again doubtful to return tonight.
The Predators made one lineup change for game five, and that was dressing Tanner Jeannot and skating him on the team’s fourth line. That move paid off for Nashville as the fourth line scored both of the team’s goals.
Of course, Juuse Saros will be between the pipes for the Preds. Their young star goalie has stood on his head for several stretches in this series and has been phenomenal throughout. He’s played to the tune of a .928 save percentage and has stopped 93.5% of the shots he’s faced since game two.
Here’s how the Predators are expected to line up in game six:
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Matt Duchene
Eeli Tolvanen - Mikael Granlund - Luke Kunin
Nick Cousins - Erik Haula - Calle Jarnkrok
Yakov Trenin - Colton Sissons - Tanner Jeannot
Roman Josi - Alexandre Carrier
Mattis Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Ben Harpur - Matt Benning