After Game 5 loss, Nashville Predators will have to make history to win series against Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Nashville Predators faced a win-and-go-home scenario Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
And a lose-and-go-home scenario.
Either way, the Predators were coming back to Bridgestone Arena, and its increased capacity, for Game 6 on Thursday. (8:30 p.m. CT).
After losing 3-2 in yet another overtime game Tuesday to fall behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Predators now face a go-home-and-win-or-go-home-for-the-summer scenario
Jordan Staal ensured that when he scored 2 minutes, 3 seconds into the third consecutive overtime game of the series in the seventh straight meeting between the teams dating to the regular season.
"We've got to flip the script here, and we know that," Predators forward Nick Cousins said before Game 5. "Our fans gave us a big boost back at home, but we've got to win on the road here now, so we should hopefully be able to silence their crowd here (Tuesday)."
By virtue of their loss Tuesday, the Predators still will have to win on the road for the first time in eight tries in Raleigh, N.C., this season if they are to advance.
First, they must win at home Thursday.
The Predators' return to Bridgestone for a Game 6 looked improbable after they dropped the first two games of the series to the Central Division champions.
Not to mention the unofficial assist on Kunin's winner Saturday came from a man who was in the neighborhood — Mr. Pete Rogers.
The only equipment manager the Nashville Predators have ever known was quick with a new stick after Kunin broke his moments before giving his team its second dose of a double-OT victory in two games.
Rogers received a round of applause in the locker room afterward, and the sequence served as further evidence that the Predators are going to need every last person to contribute in order to have a chance to survive this series.
Duchene's double-overtime winner in Game 3. Kunin's — and the assist from Rogers in Game 4. Juuse Saros' masterful performances in goal nearly every game. They'll need to add to that list Thursday.
History suggests the Predators won't win the series. They never have when losing the first two games of a seven-game set.
Not that now is the time they're going to say never.
The margin for error is closer to none than to slim.
"It's a really tight every game," Predators captain Roman Josi said. "The last few games have been really tight and could (have gone) either way."
The bounces, it seemed, were going the Predators' way at times Tuesday.
So much so, Yakov Trenin wasn't even aware he'd scored his first playoff goal to give his team a 1-0 lead after Roman Josi's shot deflected off him.
Heck, even a tying goal that was taken away from the Hurricanes after John Hynes' first goalie interference challenge of the season didn't draw the true ire of Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour, who hasn't been shy about criticizing the officials during the series, saying after Game 3 his team also was "fighting the refs."
Hynes resisted the bait about officials after Tuesday's game, after Alexandre Carrier was called for a penalty that erased a Predators' overtime power play and led to Staal's game-winner.
None of that will matter Thursday, though.
"It's on to Game 6," Hynes said.
Where the Predators season goes from there, if anywhere, will be up to the Predators.
Reach Paul Skrbina at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.