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Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five Preview

JL Matthews

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Raleigh, NC -- The Carolina Hurricanes (2-2) and the Nashville Predators (2-2) resume their first-round playoff series tonight at 8:00 Eastern. After Carolina won two-straight in Raleigh, Nashville answered right back with two-straight double-overtime victories.

"We're two-two; the series is basically starting over," Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It's not like the world is caving in on us...It's how we lost, where we felt like we could have won. That's tough; we have to park it."

In what is now effectively a best-of-three series, Carolina holds a few key advantages over the Predators.

The first is home-ice. Game Five and Game Seven (if necessary) will take place at PNC Arena. Since 2006, Carolina holds the 2nd best home record in the NHL playoffs at 21-10 (.677). Only the Chicago Blackhawks have a higher home win percentage 45-19 (.703).

The second is Nashville's history in Game Fives. The Predators have gone 5-13 overall in Game Fives; they're 3-8 on the road. History isn't destiny, but Nashville's record is not a pretty one.

Third, Carolina continues to score--just not in overtime. The Canes have outscored the Predators 15-11 in the series and 15-9 in regulation. They've scored at least three goals in each of the first four games. Despite the impressive save totals that Juuse Saros has posted (58 and 53 in the last two games), Carolina has not struggled to find offense.

What they have struggled to find is timely offense.

The Canes' powerplay (2nd in the league during the regular season) hasn't performed well. They've converted only twice on 14 chances, good for 14.3%--roughly half of their regular-season rate.

Expect Brind'Amour to scramble the top unit mid-game if they falter early.

Lineup News

Jaccob Slavin took the morning skate on Tuesday in what has to be a welcome sight for Canes' fans. The alternate captain has not played since Game One. If he can go tonight, it should provide the team with a huge boost on the backend, where Brady Skjei (77:01) and Brett Pesce (79:43) have logged a tremendous amount of minutes during the last two games.

In net, it looks like both teams will stick with a single goaltender.

Alex Nedeljkovic's (2-2, .928 SV%, 2.13 GAA) strong performances have been overshadowed by Carolina's overtime losses, but his numbers don't lie. He's played well, and if Slavin can return, it bodes well for Ned and the Canes in Game Five.

Juuse Saros (2-2, .929 SV%, 2.52 GAA) saw plenty of rubber during Games Three and Four, but he got the wins. His 58-save Game Four performance ranks 25th overall in NHL history (since 1920) for most saves in a game. It's all impressive, but it makes you wonder if how long Saros can keep it going.

The Canes' expected lines:

Forwards

Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas

Warren Foegele — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast

Jordan Martinook — Steven Lorentz — Brock McGinn

Defense

Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton

Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce

Jake Bean — Jani Hakanpaa

Goalies

Alex Nedeljkovic

Petr Mrazek

Injuries: none

Scratches: James Reimer, Max McCormick, Drew Shore, Morgan Geekie, Cedric Paquette, Joakim Ryan, Ronald McKeown, Maxim Lajoie, Jake Gardiner

Nashville's expected lines:

Forwards

Filip Forsberg — Ryan Johansen — Matt Duchene

Eeli Tolvanen — Mikael Granlund — Luke Kunin

Nick Cousins — Erik Haula — Calle Jarnkrok

Yakov Trenin — Colton Sissons — Mathieu Olivier

Defense

Roman Josi — Alexandre Carrier

Mattias Ekholm — Ryan Ellis

Ben Harpur — Matt Benning

Goalies

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Injuries: none

Scratches: Dante Fabbro, Erik Gudbranson, Viktor Arvidsson, Brad Richardson, Tanner Jeannot

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JL Matthews is a writer with interests spanning history, humor, tv/film, parenting, and more. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he is a 6x Top Writer on Medium. Follow him on News Break, Medium, and Twitter for updates and latest work.

Raleigh, NC
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