Here are three things to watch as the Predators prepare for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday (8 p.m. ET on WBIR):
The final curtain: The Penguins won their previous four Stanley Cups on the road, and they can add a fifth in that fashion Sunday. The Predators, facing elimination for the first time during the playoffs, will depend on their home-ice advantage to extend their season. Nashville has a 9-1 record this postseason at Bridgestone Arena, which will host its final game this season Sunday. The home team has won each game of the series with a 24-6 goal differential.
Ellis' status: Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis left Game 5 on Thursday for an undisclosed reason, and he didn't participate in the team's optional practice Saturday. The Predators haven't provided an official statement on Ellis' status, but his potential absence Sunday would be significant. Ellis has averaged more than 23 minutes per game this postseason. If he can't play, expect Matt Irwin to receive an elevated role alongside Roman Josi. Anthony Bitetto likely would replace Irwin on Nashville's third pair with Yannick Weber.
Limiting chances: Through three Stanley Cup Final games, Nashville held Pittsburgh to 13 high-danger scoring chances at even strength, according to naturalstattrick.com. The Penguins had 24 total chances of that quality in Games 4 and 5, demonstrating how the Predators' defense has slipped. The Predators can't allow that to continue. Nashville's 6-0 loss Thursday was the NHL's fourth of the playoffs by at least six goals. The three previous teams — Edmonton in the first round (7-0 to San Jose), Anaheim in the second round (7-1 to Edmonton) and Ottawa in the conference finals (7-0 to Pittsburgh) — rebounded to win the following game.
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