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Preds: Shutting down Pens' stars not possible every game

Danny Murphy  Icon Sportswire

But the Penguins lost, both Games 3 and 4, because they were generally speaking, a awful team.

Fans cheer on the Penguins during the second period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

The Predators have had answers for Malkin, shutting him down inside and outside the Pens' zone. "You just keep shooting and hopefully one goes in". "And that's just going to be like (that)".

Which meant open ice for Kessel and Malkin without Subban, who had shut them down, out there.

There's no doubt the Penguins need Matt Murray to be better in Game 5, but they could also help themselves by improving their transition game and getting their stars back on track.

The vibe inside PPG Paints Arena for Game 5 on Thursday night figures to be more anxious than anticipatory after the Predators evened the series at 2-2 with a pair of vintage performances on home ice that sent "Smashville" into a frenzy and delivered a very clear message that the first-timers are a clear threat to become first-time winners.

If Ellis can not play, the Predators would have to rely on either Matt Irwin or Yannick Weber for more minutes. Malkin's 10th goal of the playoffs came with the teams skating 4-on-4.

Stanley is the symbol of how coach Peter Laviolette wanted his Predators to play this season. His teammates weren't sharing any information either. Not with Rinne 9-1 at home this postseason.

When Hainsey, who waited 907 regular-season games before reaching the playoffs for the first time this season, tapped in a pass from Malkin to make it 6-0, the stage was set for the Penguins to return to familiar territory.

But the Predators had little to enjoy from this one.

The six goals allowed were a postseason-high for Nashville, which had allowed five goals only twice, with one an empty-netter by Anaheim. Just like between Games 2 and 3, there will be three days Game 4 at Nashville and tonight's Game 5. Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel seemed to be having some chemistry issues, but expect them to try and have a bigger game than usual as well. Crosby, who has 57 playoff goals, entered Game Five three points shy of tying Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin for 19th place.

Ekholm said the Predators tried to answer nearly too quickly.

Asked how he'd managed to come through previously when under pressure Kessel responded in typical easy-going fashion: "Just do whatever I do". "That's going to happen". I felt good enough to play, and I was happy with how my body held up last season. The best thing about my job is when I'm in work for two straight months, like the National Hockey League playoffs, I'm in a room with 20 televisions.

"I think he thinks the game quickly", said head coach Mike Sullivan. He also isn't anxious about the Penguins getting overconfident with a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Sunday night.

"The real hockey starts now", Subban said. "I think they understand how these series go and how, from one game to the next, we have to reset the mindset and just be ready to play that game right in front of us".

Nashville scored three times in the second period of Game 1 to even things up before losing 5-3. Heading into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, he is tied for third in scoring with seven goals and 20 points in 23 games.

He thought the Penguins got their best looks in Game 4, but were ultimately denied by Rinne, who rediscovered his way after a rocky start to the series.

Laviolette said his Predators are honest with each other, especially coming off a loss.

"You move forward here, you learn from it and we'll be a lot better in our home rink", said Predators forward James Neal. "We had some high-quality chances".