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Pens at Preds Game Six: Five Things to Know

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Stanley Cup will be in Bridgestone Arena Sunday night and the Pittsburgh Penguins can make some history in Game Six as a victory will make them the first repeat champion of the 21st Century. Faceoff is shortly after 8 p.m. on NBC.

The Pens lead the series, three games to two, after Thursday's 6-0 whitewash in PPG Paints Arena. But they know the task will be ultra-hard here, where the Predators took Games Three and Four by a combined 9-2 count.

Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's potential clincher:

1. The Penguins' mindset: Coach Mike Sullivan called it a business-like approach and this team has used that to get through all manner of situations the last two years. It should serve them well again tonight.

"It's important that we stay in the moment," Sullivan said today. "We can't get ahead of ourselves. I believe that we have a mature group, and we have great leadership and we trust our leadership, that these guys understand it. They've been here before. They know what it's about. They also understand that nothing has been accomplished."

"It doesn't get any more exciting. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise," said 40-year-old Matt Cullen, who could head into retirement with two Cups. "The finish line is right there."

Mike Harrington: Moment is at hand for Pens to make history

2. The Predators' dilemma on D: Ryan Ellis skated on his own prior to the Preds' optional morning skate and reportedly looked troubled by some sort of shoulder or rib ailment suffered in Game Five. Ellis, who is a game-time decision, averaged more than 24 minutes per game until leaving Game Five early and was the first defenseman since 1999 to post a point in seven straight playoff games.

Anthony Bitetto or Brad Hunt, neither of whom have played in the playoffs this year, could be called on to replace Ellis.

3. Home Sweet Home: The Predators are 9-1 in the postseason and have won 13 of the last 14 playoff games in Bridgestone. Home teams have won the first five games of the final for the first time since 2011, and are 38-16 in the final since 2009. The Music City is particularly insane today, with upwards of 100,000 people in town for the final of the CMAFest for country music.

4. Big offense: The Penguins boast the top four point producers in the playoffs in Evgeni Malkin (10-18— 28), Sidney Crosby (8-19—27), Phil Kessel (8-15—23) and Jake Guentzel (13-8— 21). Malkin and Crosby each have reached the 20-point milestone in a single playoff year for the third time. Guentzel remains at 13 goals for the playoffs, one off Dino Ciccarelli's 1981 NHL record, and has tied the rookie mark with 21 points.

5. Subban muzzled?: Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban, the center of much of the chatter around the series in the first four games, has not spoken to the media since after Game Five and reporters staged a "stand-in" at his locker following today's morning skate when a Predators PR official appeared to corral Subban in the hallway as he left the ice and instructed him not to speak, in violation of NHL media access rules.

Reporters stood in the locker room for 20 minutes before being instructed to leave when the Preds went into their daily meeting. It's clear that the "Listerine wars" that developed after Game Three, when Subban falsely said Crosby told him he had bad breath, could be at the root of the issue. Crosby has erupted for four points in the two games since and been a much bigger factor in the series.

A YouTube of Showtime's All-Access series has emerged, showing Subban and Crosby exchanging F-bombs near the end of Game Three with nary a word about mouthwash uttered.

 

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