Faced with elimination, Preds believe 'anything is possible'

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 7:49pm

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Rogers Arena was quiet Friday afternoon when the Nashville Predators took to the ice for a light workout.

It was an appropriate atmosphere.

The Predators must keep it that way Saturday and give the sellout crowd that will fill the seats for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal series little to cheer. If not, they will slip into the silence of the offseason, albeit an offseason already guaranteed to be the shortest in franchise history.

Having lost two straight at home, Nashville trails the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and, therefore, faces elimination with each remaining contest.

“We haven’t done enough,” captain Shea Weber said following the workout. “… We have to be a lot better. It’s no excuses now. We have to win.”

Until its victory in six games against Anaheim, the team never had extended its playoff participation beyond the first round.

Having already accomplished that, the Predators can further distinguish themselves in Game 5 (7 p.m., Versus). With a victory, they would extend a series when faced with elimination for the first time.

Nashville is 0-5 all-time and has been outscored a total of 15-7 when the opponent has a chance to end a series. Twice, it has been shut out in those contests, and last season against Chicago was the first time it managed more than two goals.

“We have one game to win,” coach Barry Trotz said. “If we can take care of business, we’ll have one game to win.”

It will take three straight victories against Vancouver, which had the league’s best record in the regular season, to advance to the conference finals. It is not impossible.

The Chicago Blackhawks did it in the first round of these playoffs after they dropped the first three of the conference quarterfinal round. Chicago then sent Game 7 into overtime with a late goal before the Canucks finally escaped.

Twice during the regular season Vancouver lost four in row. In those cases, though, at least one of the defeats was in overtime.

The combination of that memory and the fact that Nashville has scored game-tying goals in the third periods of each of the last three games ought to have Vancouver on edge going forward.

However, the Predators remain buoyed by the fact that this already is the most memorable postseason run in their history.

“It’s only a couple of games,” goalie Pekka Rinne said. “Anything can happen. It’s just so much fun right now. We just need to win [Saturday’s] game.”

Briefly

• Jerred Smithson, injured at the end of the first period Thursday, did not travel with the team and will miss Game 5. Smithson has not missed a postseason contest since the Predators’ first playoff appearance (2004).

J-P Dumont will take Smithson’s place, but down to just 12 healthy forwards, Trotz said he does not necessarily have four lines he can use.

“I’m going to make it up as I go along,” Trotz said. “That’s just how we’re going to have to do it.”

• With a goal and an assist in Game 4, Cody Franson tied Ryan Suter for the team lead in points by a defenseman with six — twice as many as an Predators’ blue liners in previous playoff appearances. Franson and Suter each have one goal and five assists.