NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators play Game Four of the Stanley Cup final Monday night in Bridgestone Arena, with faceoff shortly after 8 p.m. on NBC. It should be another raucous atmosphere after Saturday's 5-1 Nashville victory amid the epic din of the arena and the 50,000-plus fans outside on Broadway.
This is the last game in the series played after one day off. There will be two days off after the remaining games, with Game Seven not scheduled until June 14. Here are Five Things to Know about Game Four:
What's at stake for the Pens: A win would give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead in the series and also set the Pens up to win the Cup at home Thursday night in PPG Paints Arena. No Pittsburgh team has won a championship on home soil since Bill Mazeroski's famous Game Seven home run against the Yankees won the World Series for the Pirates in 1960. The Penguins had a chance in Game Five last year but the Sharks pulled out a 3-1 win to force Pittsburgh's Cup clincher back to San Jose three nights later.
"I don't think anybody in here believes we've brought our best game yet," Pittsburgh veteran Matt Cullen said today after his team's optional skate. "Why I don't know. But we've still been able to get ourselves into a good spot by winning the first two."
What at stake for the Preds: A win tonight would even the series at 2-2 and guarantee a Game Six in the Music City on Sunday night -- during a weekend when upwards of 100,000 people are expected for the annual CMAFest of the Country Music Association. The Predators are 8-1 at home in this postseason -- and goaltender Pekka Rinne has a 1.49 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in those games.
Bonino-Bonino-Bonino: Pittsburgh center Nick Bonino is a game-time decision after getting drilled by a P.K. Subban slapshot in the ankle in Game Two. He sat out Game Three. "He plays in a lot of key situations for us," said coach Mike Sullivan. "He's a key penalty-killer and has a real solid two-way game. He has offensive instincts so we can play him with offensive people and he's on our second power play. He's got great defensive awareness too, a good faceoff guy. ... He's just a real good solid two-way center iceman we know makes our team more competitive when he's in our lineup."
Don't get the reference in the lead-in to this item? It stems from Bonino's game-winning goal in the final three minutes of Game One last year against San Jose. The call on Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi went viral.
Penguins after a loss: The Penguins are 13-2 under coach Mike Sullivan the last two years in the playoffs after a defeat while goaltender Matt Murray is 9-0 -- including 7-0 when he's the goalie who took the loss. The five goals he gave up in Game Three marked just the fourth time in 88 NHL starts (regular season and playoffs) that he's given up five or more.
"He battles on every shot in practice," Cullen said. "He's mad when you score in practice and you love that competitiveness."
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 5, 2017
Penguins offense: Pittsburgh has been outshot, 97-67, in the three games and has to get far more than its series average of 22.3 shots on goal per game to have a better chance of success. Jake Guentzel has four goals in the series, Evgeni Malkin has two and no one else has more than one.
"I don't sense any frustration on our players' part," coach Mike Sullivan said today. "We're just trying to compete out there. You got to give Nashville credit. They're a good team. They are two good teams that are playing. I don't think we've established the level of play that we know we're capable of, or at least not as consistently as we'd like."