Originally posted on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 4/19/12

When the puck drops on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators will be looking to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. For the first time in franchise history, Nashville has a 3-1 series lead.

Nashville's Pekka Rinne has been a difference maker for Nashville against Detroit

Detroit boasts one of the more impressive rosters in the NHL with the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom on the back end and Pavel Datsyuk as well as Henrik Zetterberg up front. Closing out the series will not be easy.

“It is definitely not comfortable when you have a talented team like Detroit trying to win. If you lose Game 5, then all of a sudden you end up back in Detroit for Game 6, and then anything can happen,” defenseman Kevin Klein explained. 

“Our whole focus is using the crowd and coming out as strong as possible Friday night, correcting the things we didn’t do in Game 4, especially through the first two periods and try to take a little pressure off Rinne,” he said.

Rinne has outplayed his counterpart at the opposite end of the rink, Jimmy Howard. With a 2.01 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage, the 29-year old as been the Predators playoff MVP.

In total, 74 pucks were thrown towards Rinne during Game 4 on Tuesday night. While 41 shots made it through to the Finnish netminder, the Predators blocked another 16 shots, and 17 shots missed the net entirely. It was the second game in a row that Rinne faced over 40 shots on goal.

Rinne’s record when facing 35 shots or more speaks for itself, posting a 14-0-2 record during the regular season in those games. However, if Nashville is going to have a chance at closing out the series on Friday, Detroit’s scoring chances will need to be limited.

“You don’t want to give up as many chances as we did. We took 7 penalties. They had 9 or 10 chances just on the power play,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “We need to stay out of the box. That’s discipline. That’s details. I’m not going to agree with every penalty. Most coaches won’t, but there are some things we can do. Two things come to mind, puck management and our puck support. They go hand-in-hand.

“We are going to have to be very desperate against the Red Wings. They are a team that has a lot of experience. They have been in these situations where they have had to fight back. I have the utmost respect for not only the Red Wings organization, but also the players and the coaching staff over there. This might be the hardest thing we have to do in terms of effort and detail to get the fourth win in the series.”

The puck drops at Bridgestone Arena at 7 pm CDT on Friday night.  If Detroit wins, the series will return to Detroit on Sunday for Game 6.

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