NASHVILLE - All of the Nashville Predators' bold moves and Stanley Cup hopes have come down to this: Win tonight or go home without winning even one postseason series.
The franchise that signed Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont last summer, then traded for Peter Forsberg in February to strengthen their chase of a Stanley Cup now finds itself in exactly the same position as a year ago, trailing San Jose 3-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The Sharks flew into Nashville and closed out that series with a 4-1 win. The Predators, who lost 3-2 Wednesday night, returned home Thursday afternoon determined to keep San Jose from celebrating in their arena.
"We have our backs against the wall now, but we are a good team when we have our backs against the wall," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose future with the team could hinge on how they react because his contract has not been extended past this season.
The Predators have been here before and not responded. The Detroit Red Wings finished off Nashville in six games in Tennessee in 2004, and the Predators never really were in Game 5 with San Jose last year.
NHL history is not on the Predators' side either. Of the 214 teams that trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, only 20 rallied to win the series (9.3 percent).
Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun draws hope from that as they try to add their name to that list of comebacks.
"It's been done before. In this situation, we can only focus on the game in Nashville. It's tough to be down 3-1, but you're still alive," Vokoun said.
If the Predators have any advantage now they lacked a year ago, it's playoff experience. Forsberg, picked up from Philadelphia for two players and two draft picks, brought two Stanley Cup rings with him. With Dumont, Arnott and defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski, that added 298 games of playoff experience going into this series.
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